By Tristan Breijer FRGS
(London, UK) In a significant move to prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead in the world of hunting and conservation, the CIC recently hosted an expert consultation meeting in London at the renowned Farmers Club.
This event brought together a diverse group of nineteen experts encompassing the fields of science, politics, agriculture and veterinary medicine – representing non-governmental and international organisations, rural businesses and the countryside at large – in order to discuss critical issues which can impact the future of hunting and conservation.
The impetus for the meeting was the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which was stopped by the House of Lords, the UK government reshuffle as well as the evolving political landscape in the UK and Europe. The meeting was organised by Denis Slobodyan, Head of the CIC UK Delegation, together with UK Delegation Member Ed Swales, and with support from the CIC Administrative Office in Budapest.
Sebastian Winkler, Director General of the CIC, was in attendance and stated “This meeting in London was a cornerstone event, it brought together diverse expertise to address the pressing issues of wildlife conservation and responsible hunting. Our discussions highlighted the crucial role of collaborative efforts and the urgent need for a multidisciplinary and multilateral approach to navigate the challenges in our field.
As the CIC continues to lead on a global stage, we are committed to integrating science, policy, and practice to ensure a sustainable and ethical future for hunting and wildlife conservation.”
Tristan Breijer, UK Delegation Member and FACE Policy Advisor spoke on the importance of social license: “This consultation was a pivotal moment for us to delve into the complex dynamics of the social license of hunting and conservation, especially in the UK context. The diverse perspectives presented here underscore the importance of understanding and shaping public perception to support sustainable hunting practices.”
This meeting was the confluence of academia and policy and was characterised by its focus on several key areas:
- Wildlife Health and Management: Experts underscored the importance of scientific data to support the role of hunting in managing and improving wildlife populations and ecosystems. The conversation touched upon the necessity of controlling and dispatching wounded deer and other species to aid disease control and maintain healthy wildlife populations.
- Social Acceptance and Legal Challenges: Discussions revolved around the evolving public perception of hunting and the increasing influence of social media and celebrity involvement. The meeting addressed the need for strategic approaches to enhance social acceptance and effectively respond to any judicial reviews impacting hunting practices.
- Human-Wildlife Coexistence: A significant part of the dialogue was dedicated to human-wildlife conflict and the essential role of hunting in mitigating these conflicts. Discussions highlighted the importance of community-based conservation models that empower local communities and enable them to benefit from sustainable hunting practices.
- Conservation Evidence and Political Influence: The meeting recognized the gap between scientific evidence and political decision-making. There was a consensus on the need for robust data and persuasive narratives to influence policy and public opinion positively.
- Ethics and Aesthetics of Hunting: The consultation delved into the ethical considerations of hunting, discussing the essence of hunting as a practice beyond just the act of killing. The experts pondered the philosophical aspects of hunting, considering its various dimensions and the significance of trophies in hunting culture.
- Legislative and Regulatory Insights: The gathering also provided valuable insights into current and upcoming legislative changes impacting hunting and wildlife management. This included discussions on wildlife laws, the increasing trend of licensing in game shooting, and the challenges of aligning with international directives and regulations.
The meeting did not just focus on the challenges but also illuminated the path forward, emphasising the need for a multidisciplinary approach to address these complex issues. The experts acknowledged the importance of adapting to changing societal norms, improving scientific understanding, and fostering collaboration across different sectors.
The CIC’s expert consultation meeting in London was a critical step in uniting diverse perspectives to prepare for the future of hunting and conservation. The gathering underscored the need for informed, collaborative, and strategic efforts to ensure the sustainable and ethical management of wildlife and their habitats.
As the discussions continue to evolve, the insights from this meeting will undoubtedly contribute to shaping the future policies and practices in hunting and conservation globally.