The Romanian Minister for Environment, Costel Axele, announced that chamois and the Eurasian skylark will be placed under protected status, at a press conference on Thursday (13 February, 2020).
“We have made the decision to place under protection two emblematic species for Romania, the hunting of which has unfortunately been allowed without any restriction. It is about the lark and the chamois. The lark is a national symbol species and its hunting is not a traditional activity, it is not an indigenous hunting practice. Moreover, it is on the UNICEF list of endangered species. The chamois, although an emblematic species for the Carpathians and Romania, was considered a monument of nature until 2007, but once Romania entered the European Union, its protection was dropped. We will submit to the Government of Romania the point of view of the ministry regarding the protection of these two species, which we consider to be emblematic and, obviously, very important for our country.” – Minister for Environment, Costel Axele
The move to ban the hunting of chamois first came last year through a petition on DeClic, a Romanian online campaigning platform. The petition gave mention to the quota of 609 chamois for the 2019/20 hunting season, given by the former Minister of Water and Forestry.
Data from a centralised source suggests that the planned ban is completely unnecessary. Chamois populations have steadily increased in Romania since they lost their protected status in 2007, from a population of 6,722 in 2005 to 8,158 in 2019. The optimal number of chamois was set by the authorities to be 6,174.
The introduction of a hunting ban on chamois would have negative consequences for the species itself, and for its surrounding wildlife and habitats. In terms of forest management, an overpopulation of the species will cause significant damage in mountain forests, especially below the upper treeline where chamois tend to browse forest regeneration.
In contrast to the planned ban of hunting of chamois in Romania, there are some areas in the Alpine region where state forest services in particular are excessively culling chamois, even in disregard of legally set hunting seasons, in order to minimise damages through browsing forest regeneration.
An increase in population density means that the species will also be more susceptible to wildlife diseases, due to stress and food congruence.
The chamois in question, Rupicapra rupicapra, is currently listed under Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive. This means that they can be legally hunted under EU law.
It is simply not acceptable for wildlife management to be based on sheer emotions and in disregard of science and best practice knowledge.
The Romanian Ministry of Environment will put forward their stance on these planned hunting bans to the Government of Romania, which will make the final decision.