A new bill aimed at clamping down on poaching and preserving the country’s biodiversity has been put forward for public consultation by the interior ministry.
The bill sets out provisions for gamekeepers on hourly contracts to be armed, and for all gamekeepers to wear body cameras, with the aim of finding, recording and deterring poachers. Furthermore, cameras will be installed in forests and other outdoor areas.
The bill, which is set to be officially presented by the ministry next week, also includes provisions to arm a greater number of gamekeepers and criminalise the feeding of stray cats and dogs in ‘Natura 2000’ areas and areas where migratory birds are known to nest and are potential prey for strays.
Should the bill pass into law, the act will carry a 500 euro fine, with an array of other criminal acts also listed. The act of feeding wild animals without a licence will now also carry a 500 euro fine.
In addition, those who video or photograph the torture of wild animals and upload evidence to social media could face up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 20,000 euros, while the fine for the use of hunting dogs between sunset and sunrise will double from 500 euros to 1,000 euros.
The fine for the transportation of a loaded firearm either by vehicle or on the back of an animal could also increase from 500 euros to 700 euros, with the police chief set to gain the right to revoke hunting firearm licences from those who commit transgressions.
The bill also sets out a route to prosecution for environmental protestors who interfere with legal hunters, with those who ‘purposefully hinder or obstruct’ legal hunting set to be criminalised.
Asked to comment, the hunting federation president Nikolas Prodromou said that the federation had not yet convened to study the proposed law and were unable to comment.
The public have until July 3 to submit their opinions on the bill via email to the game and fauna service at [email protected].