– I strongly oppose this. Anders Lee, a 17-year-old reindeer hunter from Skaar in the municipality of Ullensvang.
He fears for the future of the tribe in Hartangervitae if there is winter hunting and his weasel brothers will never enjoy wild reindeer.
– I’m bored. Imagine if I could no longer see wild reindeer. It makes me sad to think about it.
The herd at Hartangervita is the largest with around 5,000 animals, which has decreased by 2,500 animals since 2017. Last year, wild reindeer were included in the Red List and rated as “Near Threatened”.
So the news that a reindeer with scrapie had been butchered in October this year hit hard. This is the second disease diagnosed in Hartangervitae.
Therefore, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority have instructed the authorities to open the so-called extraordinary winter hunt.
The aim is to reduce the population of adult bucks, which they believe is the biggest source of infection. The use of scooters and helicopters in hunting may be appropriate.
– Distemper is one of the most serious animal diseases we have in Norway. The disease has a particularly fatal effect on infected animals and there is no vaccine. It is very important that we deal with this effectively to prevent further spread of the disease, says Inge Erlend Nasset, Director of Regulation and Control at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
Hunting is common in autumn today. It will continue to be the primary remedy against scrapie, says Naset.
– But we have come to the conclusion that there is a need to take additional money so that it does not have disproportionately negative consequences for the welfare of the animals, he says.
Winter can be a very difficult time for wild reindeer.
— All hunting is a kind of burden to the hunted animals, and winter hunting is an additional tax. But here it must be weighed against the need to control a more serious animal disease.
The Norwegian Hunter and Fishermen’s Association (NJFF) supports the advice on winter hunting as a necessary measure to avoid other and more extensive measures to deal with the disease.
This stance led many to leave the Sangha. The NJFF says there are tens of thousands of resignations.
They will ignore hunting
For 17-year-old Andreas, wild reindeer mean a lot. Participating in a wild reindeer hunt was one of his greatest natural experiences.
– I have loved to hunt wild reindeer for many years.
– But what if this is a necessary activity for wild reindeer to survive?
– It should be revealed when the time comes. But I think it would be brutal to shoot in winter while waiting until fall. Then the animals are healthy, fit and fast.
– We are a group of hunters who have decided to skip the winter hunt. He explains that if they continue like this, I will not go hunting and help reduce the number of animals next season.
He receives support from Prof. Eagle Reimers, Department of Biology, University of Oslo.
– Winter hunting by snowmobiles and helicopters. Its sound alone can inspire fear and terror in animals.
Going in favor of winter hunting would be an overreaction, Reimers believes.
– I want to fight against winter hunting as much as I can based on biological principles. Diseases come and go in nature, animals clean themselves up – or nature does.
– To build the tribe
Reimers thinks the tribe should start rebuilding and resume sampling and casual hunting. He points to an example from North America where wild reindeer also had scabies.
– In North America, this disease has been present since 1968. There they live with the disease and do what they can to cope.
He has given clear encouragement to the politicians who make the final decision.
– Don’t rush into anything. I have plenty of time. The disease has a slow development, we are talking about years, maybe even decades, we can follow the development with regular hunting in autumn.
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