A total of 12 hunters were reported on Sunday, as hunting season began.

According to the state broadcaster, eleven of them were reported for hunting in a prohibited area, while the twelfth was reported for hunting francolins, which is currently prohibited.

In Paphos, seven hunters were reported as they were found in three different prohibited hunting areas and will be required to pay fines of more than €3,000 each.

The forestry department meanwhile urged hunters to be cautious as hunting season began, reminding them to avoid activities that may cause a fire.

It called on hunters to avoid lighting fires for any reason and not to throw their cigarette butts or matches, as the weather conditions currently will only make any flames worse.

Between 18,000 and 19,000 hunters were estimated to head out on Sunday as this year’s hunting season began, spokesperson of Cyprus’ Game and Fauna Service, Petros Anayiotos, told CNA.

In the meantime, the forestry department has urged hunters to be extremely careful and to completely avoid actions and activities which may cause a fire, warning that prevailing weather conditions are particularly conducive to the start or spread of fires.

Speaking to CNA, Anayiotos said up to 19,000 hunters would set out on Sunday to hunt woodpigeons, Eurasian collared doves and quail. As of September 3, turtledove hunting will also be allowed, he said.

This part of the hunting season covers Sundays until September 17 and two Wednesdays, September 6 and 13, he explained

Anayiotos said that officers of the Game and Fauna Service have been carrying out checks from Saturday evening and will continue to do so until late Sunday night, in all districts. He noted that during this season, usually two offences emerge, that of hunting without a permit and hunting in a prohibited area. Out-of-court fines start at €2,000 and increase if there are additional offences, he said.

The game and fauna service wished all hunters a “good and safe hunting” period, calling on all hunters “to observe all the written and unwritten laws of hunting, to show the necessary respect to their colleagues and to the foreign properties that will host them”. It also reminded hunters that they will have to record their catch through the Artemis Cy application, noting that this was mandatory for all game in all hunting seasons.

The forestry department warning also sought to remind hunters that disposing empty cartridges in the environment is considered to be serious pollution and is banned.

Additionally, lighting fires in forest and rural areas is strictly prohibited and constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to €50,000.00 or both penalties together, the department added.

Lighting a fire is only allowed in the specially designed grills of the forestry department’s picnic areas for food preparation.

Anyone who sees smoke or fire in or near the forests should immediately call 1407 (forestry department) or 112 (fire service).