Cyprus Mail

Fox hunting debate resumes as hare numbers shrink

A publicity poster produced by campaigners for the 'Intervention for the Protection of the Cyprus Fox

By Evie Andreou

THE issue of allowing the hunt of foxes has once again come to the fore after deputies said the number of animals was diminishing, but Panayiota Koutsofta, researcher at the non-governmental organisation Terra Cypria said that any action must be considered only after a scientifically documented study.

The House Environment committee yesterday discussed the possibility of measures to decrease fox population, after a proposal by DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou, who said that the rapid increase of the fox population in the countryside and natural habitats is threatening the balance of fauna and is a cause for concern among farmers, hunters and the game service.

Kyprianou suggested a law amendment so that foxes can be considered as prey and its population controlled by the game and fauna service.

In February, the Initiative/Intervention for the Protection of the Cyprus Fox had launched a petition to reject any legislation which would see fox hunting legalised, after Kyprianou had sent a letter to parliament saying that the rising number of foxes in recent years is directly linked to the diminishing number of hares.

Kyprianou said at the meeting that the law amendment should not constitute the fox as general hunting prey and will not be included in hunting licences.

Committee chairman Adamos Adamou said that this issue is dated and that in the past many measures where suggested that have never been implemented because of the lack of coordination between relevant state services.

He also said that the law amendment draft will be presented at the environment committee next Wednesday.

The head of the game service, Pantelis Hadjiyerou, said that in the last 15 years, fox populations were not managed and now game populations are threatened with extinction while farmers are forced to use baits to protect their animals.

Hadjiyerou said that in 2006, 73 foxes were counted for every 120 hares, while in 2013, 125 foxes were counted for every 119 hares, an analogy that shows an unhealthy turnaround.

He also said that in the Oroklini lake, four foxes were counted in 2012, in 2013 the number rose to nine and this year 79 foxes are counted there, a fact that shows a rapid rise in their numbers. He also said that until 2003, the fox was considered as harmful.

Kyprianou said that only in Cyprus it is a protected species, while in the rest of the EU countries, the fox is a hunted species.

He added the numbers of foxes are out of control that threatens natural habitats, waterfowl and said that it is imperative a plan is drafted that will help keep a balance and ensure biodiversity.

The chairman of the Cyprus hunting association, Antonis Kakoullis, said that the management of the fox populations must be handed over to the game service since the house environment committee did not take any measures toward that end.

He also said that farmers are forced to illegally use poison to kill foxes, which is also killing hunting dogs and that a management programme must be drafted.

Terra Cypria’s Koutsofta said that foxes also eat rats and mice and that in the case the fox population rapidly decreases then we might have an increase in numbers of rodents.

“We have to take into consideration their diet, because if we try to solve one problem, then we might create another” she said.

Koutsofta added that population management might also mean that foxes are taken from one area to another, and that is the reason why a study needs to be conducted that will address the issue spherically.

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