Transylvanian hunters refuse predator cull order

The hunters of Kovászna/Covasna County are reluctant to go jail, so the prefect’s (government-appointed administrator) order for killing protected predators has not been carried out.

As we earlier reported, because of an outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF), the prefect of Kovászna County, Sebastian Cucu, and the head of the Kovászna County Veterinary Hygiene and Food Safety Directorate (DSVSA), Sándor Sikó Barabási, announced at the end of October that the area around the small town of Barót/Baraolt became a supervised zone and every wild boar and every predator within a 13-km radius had to be killed.

The only exceptions were bears because, according to Cucu and Sikó Barabási, they do not spread the infection.

Hunters won’t risk imprisonment

As it turned out, despite the order, hunters were not willing to start hunting for lynxes, wolves, and wildcats because all three are protected species and anyone who kills them can be sentenced to jail.

István Fodor
István Fodor; (Photo: transindex.ro)

“First the hunters were happy when they heard the announcement and came to me asking if it was true that they could go hunting for the predators? But I told them that it is not possible because they are strictly protected animals,” the president of the Bodok hunting organization, István Fodor, told transindex.ro.

According to Fodor, who is also the mayor of Sepsibodok/Bodoc, despite the planned massacre, hunters are barely allowed to hunt in general because drag hunting is banned in the area in order to avoid chasing wild boar herds into further areas, taking the virus with them. Wild boars can be shot only from a distance, one by one. This takes a long time because when one gets shot, all the others run away. Fodor’s opinion is that such regulations are only announced by people who do not know anything about hunting.

He said that not even two years would be enough to fulfill the order, not to mention that the wild boars’ cadavers should be stored in a cold room, where a maximum of four animals can fit.

“This is the same if they would say to an angler to catch 200kg of fish from the Olt in one day. The problem here is that regulations are not made by experts but by people who were appointed to their positions for political reasons.”

– complained Fodor, who believes that a broad professional consultation would be necessary on the topic since the problem is complex.

Bears spread the disease too

The president of the Bodok hunting organization also said that the hunters basically are only allowed to shoot foxes, while these animals are not really an issue from the perspective of disease control, since they do not roam large territories.

He also stated that it is not true that bears don’t spread the disease; they do, just like all other animals and humans themselves. Moreover, they most probably spread it even more heavily because bears sometimes roam big territories and occasionally even eat (wild boar) carrion.

Fox in Transylvania
Foxes are the only predators for which there is a hunting quota even though they are not very responsible for the spreading of the disease (Photo: Pxhere)

Chief veterinarian says number of hunted wild boars is insufficient

Transindex also asked Sándor Sikó Barabási, who said that they took the Disease Prevention Center’s nationwide regulation – which orders to kill all the predators in the affected zones – as the basis for their decision.

Sándor Sikó Barabási
Sándor Sikó Barabási (Photo: transindex.ro)

“One law says that there are protected animals, while the other one that all predators have to be killed. I think those animals that are not prohibited by the law should be hunted now. We shared our opinion as to what would be necessary from an epidemiological point of view,” Barabási explained. He also added that they are summarizing the number of hunted animals and reporting them to the forestry entity where the quotas are determined.

The chief veterinarian also added that now the hunters are shooting foxes – for which they do have quotas – and wild boars, but not as many have been shot yet as should have been.


TItle image: Lynx is a strictly protected species; killing them can be punished by imprisonment (Photo: Shutterstock)

Author: Attila Szoó