Proposed reduction in the threshold for culling Golden Eagles

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The Ministry of Climate and Environment has published a consultation paper on a proposed adjustments in the threshold for the culling of Golden Eagles that cause the loss of livestock. The proposal specifies that this will only apply to a temporary project in two areas in Fosen and Troms.

– The management of Golden eagles is a demanding and controversial topic both nationally and internationally. We have done our due diligence prior to publishing this consultation on the proposal to carry out limited culling of golden eagles in order to reduce the loss of livestock, says the Minister of climate and environment, Vidar Helgesen.

The Ministry of Climate and Environment has carried out a series of meetings with relevant parties including environmental groups, the farming sector, Sami representatives, the tourism sector, County Govenors and the Regional large carnivore committees. Through this process, the Ministry has received useful feedback on the proposal. Advice has also been provided by the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Advisory committee for the management of large predators. The sum of this information has provided valuable contributions to this consultation.

Proposals to change paragraphs regarding culling

The Ministry has put forward proposals to change paragraphs regarding culling to limit livestock damage in order to reduce the culling threshold. Proposed changes in paragraph 12 on the culling of Golden eagles that cause livestock damages. The changes are limited to the project areas in Fosen and Troms.

– We have insufficient knowledge about the measures that can result in the reduced loss of sheep and domesticated reindeer through the management of Golden eagles. We need to obtain more experience and better knowledge within these strongly affected but geographically limited areas before we can consider permanent legislative changes, says Helgesen.

The requirement that there must be significant damage

Current knowledge indicates that there are specific individuals of Golden eagles that in given situations cause greater damage to livestock. The requirement that there must be significant damage is maintained in the consultation proposal. However, the culling threshold is reduced by placing emphasis on documented significant damage over several years in the same area. Such a damage history can justify the assumption that there is increased risk of new significant damage.

Requirement to cull specific individuals

Culling of random individual Golden eagles can have a very uncertain effect on damage reduction. It is however challenging to identify individual birds that have caused damage, and this in turn can mean that culling licences have not been given despite large livestock losses.

The Ministry suggests therefore that the threshold for culling Golden eagles, should be adjusted in areas that have repeatedly experienced large losses by removing the the requirement to identify individual birds. This shall only apply to the project areas in Fosen and Troms.

The requirement to limit the culling licenses to a limited geographic area and time period in areas with large loss of livestock, still applies.

The requirement that culling cannot take place ahead of damage

The Ministry is of the opinion that it may be an option to cull individuals prior to damage to livestock taking place. The current legislation does not allow for this.

In situations where significant damage has been documented over several years in the same area, the Ministry proposes that culling prior to new documented damage may take place within the project areas. This means that it may be sufficient to document significant damage in previous grazing seasons for sheep or in previous calving periods or domesticated reindeer. The assumption is that there must be danger of damage in the upcoming season.

Requirements regarding preventative actions

Lambs and reindeer calves are the most vulnerable to injury from Golden eagles. Good preventative actions whilst the young livestock are vulnerable, can result in effective loss reduction. Knowledge obtained from earlier studies indicates that there is a relationship between losses to Golden eagles, livestock health and accidents.

The Ministry of Climate and Environment feels that it is correct to maintain the requirement to carry out preventative actions. The Nature Diversity Act and the Bern Convention also stipulate requirements that culling can only take place where the loss reduction cannot be achieved through other satisfactory activities. It is at the same time important that the projects in Fosen and Troms result in increased knowledge regarding the relationship between livestock damage and the effects of different preventative measures.

General information on the Golden Eagle project

The consultation document outlines the main challenges and issues that the Ministry wish to be considered and investigated in the project areas. This includes the mapping of both the Golden eagle and White-tailed eagle populations, livestock losses related to the Golden eagle, livestock losses due to other causes and the trial of other damage reduction measures.

Consultation responses

Responses to the consultation should be sent in using the form available on the Ministry's website, within the deadline of the 4th of September 2017.

A list of consultation bodies is attached to the consultation letter. These bodies are asked to consider whether the proposals should be presented to their respective agencies. The Ministry welcomes responses from other interested parties that may have views on the proposals.