Songbird hunting list expanded

New proposal angers bird protection organizations

Photo: David Friel / Wikimedia Commons Male Blackbird (Turdus merula).

Photo: David Friel / Wikimedia Commons
Male Blackbird (Turdus merula).

Michael Sandelson, Sarah Bostock & Lyndsey Smith
The Foreigner

Blackbirds and song thrushes could legally be culled in Norway for agricultural reasons. The suggestion by the Norwegian Environmental Agency would cover the annual hunting season between August 10 and December 23. It would be valid for a period of five years from March 2017.

Jo Anders Auran, senior advisor at the Agency’s Section for Wildlife, comments that a 2015 report by nature conservation charity BirdLife International on Norway shows that the blackbird has a breeding pair population of 250,000 to 600,000.

For the song thrush, it is estimated that the number of breeding pairs is between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000.

Why legalize blackbird and song thrush hunting? According to Auran, “Farmers, and especially farmers who grow hectares of berries such as strawberries, may experience flocks of birds attacking their fields.”

Hunting thrushes such as fieldfare and redwing has been allowed for several decades. Hunters are obliged to report their culling figures to Statistics Norway (SSB) each year.

The overall annual figure for fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and redwings (Turdus iliacus) that have been killed is between 10,000 and 15,000, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency.

Auran adds that permission to hunt these two bird species could also be revoked.

“There has been a suggestion to stop hunting these two species in Norway due to negative trends regarding these in Europe too. This will be proposed from the next hunting period in Norway if the negative trends continue,” he tells The Foreigner.

The fieldfare’s status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is classified as being of “least concern,” with its population “stable.”

The redwing is classified as being “near threatened,” with its population “decreasing.”

Kjetil Aadne Solbakken, CEO of the Norway branch of wildlife charity BirdLife International, says they are “outraged” about the agency’s proposal to allow culling of blackbirds and song thrushes.

“We think hunting small songbirds is meaningless, sad, and unacceptable. Thrushes eat berries all over the world, and the situation in Norway isn’t particularly serious, either,” he says.

Current legislation permits farmers to apply to the County Governor for permission to shoot the actual animals that cause economic damage to their crops.

“It’s better to have the opportunity to reduce the problem through hunting locally instead of one or two shooting specific birds that are causing the problem,” comments the environment agency’s Jo Anders Auran.

“This [birds causing economic harm] is quite rare. These small songbirds aren’t causing any real damage to anybody, so it’s not an argument to legalize hunting them,” Solbakken declares.

He also fears that the agency’s legislation will lead to more widespread hunting of small birds in general.

“The meat has no worth, unlike that of the grouse and/or wood pigeon, and hunting such small birds is meaningless, generally-speaking,” concludes Solbakken.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the May 20, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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