Deputies on Tuesday asked the government to support mountain communities affected by damage caused by mouflons to their cultivations.
House Agriculture Committee chairman, Akel MP, Andreas Kafkalias charged that the state had abandoned the communities, “effectively leaving them to the mercy of the mouflons”.
Government departments could not inform the committee about the scale of the problem, Kafkalias said. According to those affected, none of the measures were effective due to various restrictions.
The Cyprus mouflon is a type of wild sheep found only on the island. It became a protected species after it came close to extinction due to uncontrolled hunting. It mainly lives in the Paphos forest and the surrounding areas.
The committee agreed that a management plan was required for the animal’s protection but there was also a need to support the residents of the affected areas.
In the meantime, the government was asked to present measures by December to deal with the situation.
Disy MP Demetris Demetriou said the mouflon population had increased to dangerous levels but there was no plan to deal with the situation.
Demetriou said his party will even look into the suggestion to allow restricted hunting of the mouflon as a measure to protect properties.
Green party MP Charalambos Theopemptou said it was an issue that had to be handled with extra caution.
A plan was necessary, he added, that “must be drawn up by scientists and include counts, expansion, damage, and all matters concerning the mouflon, including protection of the farmers.”
“We cannot talk about giving permits to hunt the mouflon for a year without carrying out any study,” he said.
Theopemptou said the mouflon was a protected species “and we must be very careful because the EU itself does not allow hunting the animal.”
Conservation group Terra Cypria said there was no scientific assessment regarding the mouflons’ needs nor the damage.
Last year, less than 10 official reports about damage were made to the agriculture ministry, Terra Cypria said.
MPs, the group said, recommended setting up teams to record the damage while drafting a comprehensive plan.
“Terra Cypria thinks these proposals are not rational because organising teams amid an economic crisis and reduced numbers of civil servants is unfeasible,” it said.
The organisation also said that a management plan for mouflons has existed since 2011. “It is simply not implemented with the excuse of low funds.”
The decision to draft a plan anew would cost more money for studies that will remain shelved, Terra Cypria said.
It charged that EU funds existed but were not drawn by the affected communities.
Terra Cypriot said no number of sessions could produce newer ideas than those in the existing plan “that no effort had been made to implement”.
“Amid the mess that was today’s session, one can conclude that perhaps there is no serious intention to resolve the matter,” Terra Cypriot said, only to give publicity to those shouting.