Illegal killing: culprits have been caught
Location: Salgótarján – Hungary,
Story by: Csaba Bakó
Large carnivores are strictly protected species in Hungary. Killing and trapping of these species count as illegal activity and punished by the law. There have been some cases in the recent years, when large carnivores, especially wolves have become victims of illegal actions.
“In the Carpathian region the brown bear population is estimated to be around 7-8,000. Bears wander to the northern regions of Hungary from Slovakia.”
On 10th May 2014 a two-year-old male brown bear was shot in Nógrád county in the North Hungarian Mountains. The animal did not threaten any human lives. The hunters who shot the animal had official hunting licence. Photos were taken of the dead animal, its skull was prepared as a trophy and the pelt was salted to be further processed.
Csaba Bakó, Head of the Hunting and Fishing Department at the Government Office in Nógrád county, quickly responded to the illegal activity and withdrew the hunting license of the accused persons. The county police accused altogether 10 people who participated in the illegal activity. The issue was pushed to court and was backed up by the representatives of the hunting community (e.g. Hungarian Hunters’ National Chamber – OMVK and Hungarian Hunters’ Association – OMVV) to show an example how illegal killings are treated in the country. According to their statement this activity
“has exhausted the concept of poaching and stealing and therefore should be punished with sentence in jail”.
Just after three years, in 2017, the court managed to come to a decision where the chief and second accused received suspended sentence along with financial penalties and prohibition from hunting.
Although, these people had official hunting licenses, the hunting community excluded them from its circles and stigmatized them as poachers. This clearly shows that even though legislation procedures can prove to be slow, the community can act as a deterrent for illegal activities in the future. The message was clear: large carnivores are strictly protected! All potential management measure should be based on a consensus with hunters, conservationists and other decision-makers. Vigilantes and poachers will not be tolerated.