Killing of Golden Eagles adopted by the Norwegian Parliament
Av Kjetil Solbakken, director of BirdLife Norway (14.06.2016)
In an unexpected move, the Norwegian Parliament has approved a pilot project and requested a change in legislation that could result in more than 200 Golden Eagles being killed. This is a result of long term pressure from sheep- and reindeer owners.
On June 6th the Norwegian Parliament approved to implement a trial project that will make it easier to cull Golden Eagles in two separate areas in Norway. These areas are the Fosen peninsula in central Norway, and Troms county in northern Norway. They also called for a change in legislation to make it easier to cull Golden Eagles. A proposal to alter the rules that regulate the killing of Golden Eagles that cause damage to livestock will be sent to public hearing shortly.
BirdLife Norway is deeply worried and outraged about this. It is important to note that the Golden Eagle population in Norway has been stable for 15-20 years, and there is simply no way the problems related to Golden Eagles and livestock could have increased now. Golden Eagles are not a major problem for Norwegian livestock farmers, but have been turned into a scapegoat based on misinterpreted facts. Even if the Golden Eagle were eradicated from Norway, the loss of sheep and reindeer would be almost negligible.
The minister of Climate- and Environment states that this will all be carried out within the limits of the Bern Convention and the framework of the Carnivore agreement (in the Parliament). This still means that more than 200 Golden Eagles could be shoot.
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Rifle management of Norwegian carnivores
The population levels of all Norwegian large carnivores are extremely low because the Parliament has decided so. This is the result of long-term systematic culling of large carnivores in Norway since the 17th century, and more recently the so-called “Predator agreement” in the Parliament from 2011. The parliament has effectively decided that the wolf shall be “critically endangered” in the Red-list, and that the Brown Bear, Lynx and Wolverine shall be “Endangered” because their populations are not allowed to grow above narrow limits set by the Parliament. The Golden Eagle has so far avoided this rifle-management practise, and currently has a stable and natural population size. BirdLife Norway struggle to keep it this way. However, the secure days of the Golden Eagle seems to have come to an end with this decision.
It is simply not acceptable that Norwegian nature shall be deprived of its large natural predators just because sheep and semi-domesticated reindeer should be able to graze undisturbed and often unattended in Norwegian mountains, national parks and other wilderness areas. With such a grazing regime some loss to natural predators must be accepted, as all other natural causes of loss of grazing animals are already accepted. Any grazing animal killed by protected predators is in any case already economically compensated for by the state.
Reindeer are native to Norway and a keystone species in the arctic ecosystem. However, any reindeer north of the Dovre Mountains in central Norway are considered by law to be the property of Sami people or other local reindeer herders. This seems to justify shooting most carnivores that may threaten reindeer. In doing so, reindeer farming becomes a threat to the ecosystem itself. Beautiful nature is an important part of Norway’s brand internationally, but deprived of its natural predators it is just a false image. This is what is escalating now. The grazing industry has a much too severely negative impact on nature in Norway, and it is time to blow the whistle on this issue.