In the framework of the 64th General Assembly in Montreux, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) dedicated a session to migratory birds, with the aim to discuss the challenges and developments of migratory waterbird managements. International experts: Shane MAHONEY (CIC Canada), Evgeny SYROECHKOVSKIY (All-Russian Institute for Nature Conservation), Alexandre CZAJKOWSKI (European Institute for the Management of Wild Birds and Their Habitats, OMPO), Giovanni BANA (Head of Delegation, CIC Italy), and David SCALLAN (FACE) joined the dialogue, and formed the panel.
Management of rising goose populations in Europe: challenges and opportunities for hunters – view from Russia
Evgeny Syroechkovskiy in his presentation stated that the rising goose populations make in general very good news, foor both hunters and bird protectionists. Good resources for sustainable use, recovery of important Bird Directive component and lot’s to enjoy for birdwatchers and other nature lovers. This is great success of conservation in Europe and there is contribution from all segments of the society. Including European hunting communities, who were listening to conservation arguments and for decades seriously limiting their ability to shoot geese in nonbreeding grounds. So recovery of geese is a success of hunters as well. It is rising from safe nonbreeding grounds in Western Europe and good breeding opportunities in the Russian North. Now there is more opportunity to hunt but also a challenge – to show everybody that hunting could become an efficient tool to manage geese populations in Europe and be a conservation instrument. Goose management platform under AEWA is giving big opportunities but Western European hunting community should invest a lot in it and play an active role. It should be a plan how to sort out local conflicts with agriculture, airports etc. and redistribute goose resources within Europe wider – make them less concentrated. This will decrease pressure on agriculture and give more chance to hunt. Could a hunting tourist coming to shoot geese at his fields become a solution for a farmer in the Netherlands? It is a bit difficult to evaluate it from Russia but what is clear is that killing geese by gas is terrible solution. There are some parallels which make it morally unacceptable for me personally … and hard to understand for any Russian. Overabundance of geese giving a new dimension to discussion about spring hunting. It looks like spring hunting might be the only efficient management tool, which would be able to stop Barnacle Goose from becoming seriously overabundant similar to Snow geese in America. Is spring hunting a taboo or possible management tool? Something to discuss at goose platform … Geese populations in western Europe are growing last decades fast despite spring hunting in Russia still going on. It can’t really limit it. International cooperation is crucial for management of overabundant geese in Europe and the role of Russia, where most of geese are breeding, could be very high. The only legal binding instrument for that could be AEWA under CMS. Unfortunately, Russian government is refusing to sign it for decades and the main force, which is blocking Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology to sign AEWA is Russian hunting community. Key Russian hunter’s organizations are aggressively against AEWA as they believe in myths that AEWA would only restrict hunting in Russia more and is going to manage all for the benefit of EU against Russia. So far all the arguments of Russian waterfowl biologists about positive influence of international cooperation in management of migratory birds were ignored. CIC is the only international organization of hunters, which has significant, Russian delegation and has a channel to communicate with top of Russian hunting community. So CIC could potentially become the instrument for European hunters to convince Russian hunters to stop blocking signing AEWA and help cooperation. To work internationally together for sustainable use of waterfowl resources.
An AEWA European Goose Management Platform (EGMP) for the management of overabundant species: the case of the northwest European population of the Greylag Goose
The conservation status of waterbird populations reviewed once every three years within the framework of AEWA reveals wide disparities in population dynamics. Some are declining, others are so rapidly increasing that they cause costly agricultural damages, affect the survival of other species, or even constitute a threat to humans (health risks or aviation safety…). These opposite trends are most often the result of the capacity of species to adapt to human activities but also stem from the measures adopted for their protection, especially in Western Europe. The application of the adaptive harvest management under the AEWA International Species Management Plan for the Svalbard Population of the Pink-footed Goose marks a major step forward for waterbird management in Europe. Inspired by the North American model, it is based on the annual monitoring of the population size and of their harvests and the dialogue between all the stakeholders (authorities, biologists, hunters, farmers, nature conservationists) which guarantees both a favourable conservation status and the sustainability of hunting. Considering the remarkable outcome of this plan, the Parties to AEWA called for the development of this model to other species. The new « Guidelines on sustainable harvest of migratory waterbirds » adopted by the 6th Meeting of the Parties to AEWA (Bonn, November 2015) highlight the necessary flyway approach for waterbirds which is a part of a socio-ecological system. The European Goose Management Platform has been approved on May 11-12, 2016, in Paris. This instrument brings together the official representatives and scientists from the range States concerned, under the aegis of AEWA. It will build on the population data of the goose populations and the harvest data synthesized by the University of Aarhus (Denmark). The Platform met for the first time in December, 2016, in Kristianstad, Sweden, and decided to launch the management plans for the Barnacle Goose and Greylag Goose population of north-western Europe. A second meeting will be held on June 15-16, 2017, in Copenhagen (Denmark). The international adaptive management of these geese will be coordinated and guided by an “AEWA International Working Group” bringing together the states, the EU and the “stakeholders” (NGOs, hunters, farmers …). The drafting of the international goose management plan will begin in June, 2017 so that this document can be submitted for approval to the 7th Meeting of the Parties to AEWA in November, 2018. It will enter into force in 2019 as an adaptive management internationally coordinated and adapted to the socioeconomic and ecological challenges posed by this population in Europe.
THE EFFECTS ON BIRDS OF AN EXCEPTIONAL COLD SPELL IN SOUTHERN EUROPE DURING THE WINTER 2016-2017
Mr. Bana described the consequences for birds of the exceptional cold spell in southern Europe in 2017. It affected countries with average winter temperatures of + 5/7° C. In January 2017, temperatures of -10 to -12° C were recorded in southern Italy, reaching even -14° C at night, accompanied by frost and snow, with effects amplified by winds. Under such conditions, the Law requires the closure of hunting.
H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild birds: What is the role of hunters?
The recent spread of the H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus has resulted in mortality and conservation issues for wild birds. Various approaches have been suggested in response to outbreaks of avian influenza in Europe, including restrictions on hunting. Although it has not been demonstrated that hunting contributes to spreading the disease, this paper discusses, with reference to cases in the Netherlands and Bulgaria, how avian flu affected hunting in Europe in 2016/2017. It concludes by presenting a set of recommendations on how hunters as well as FACE and CIC should respond to the challenge of avian flu in the future.