Minister of the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir recently announced her decision to stop rewarding fox hunters in an effort to save ISK 17 million (USD 136,000, EUR 92,000). Eiderdown and sheep farmers protest her decision, arguing that it may compromise the bird life in Iceland.
An eider in the West Fjords. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Chairman of the Eiderdown Farmers’ Association Jónas Helgason from Aedey island in the West Fjords, told Rás 2 radio that he fears the minister’s decision may cause municipalities to stop rewarding fox hunters altogether and hunting to discontinue.
Until now, society has seen reason in keeping the number of foxes limited, Helgason stated, and a provision on that has been included in the law since the 13th century. No arguments have been provided as to why fox hunting should be stopped now.
Helgason admits that not everyone agrees that foxes should be hunted. Some argue that nature will find its own balance.
However, Helgason said he has monitored the nature reserve at Hornstrandir for decades and noticed a dramatic change in the biosphere: the number of land birds has dropped significantly and they have stopped making sounds to protect their nests.
The district council of Dalabyggd municipality criticized the government for lack of organization in terms of fox hunting, stating that overall supervision is none and that the government and local authorities don’t cooperate, visir.is reports.
The district council suggests a new system be adopted, that hunters be hired to make sure foxes don’t increase too much in any one part of the country, especially focusing on the nesting grounds of birds.
The current arrangement is that municipalities can choose whether or not to pay for caught foxes (the current reward is ISK 12,000 (USD 96, EUR 65) on average), since it could lead to an overpopulation of foxes in some areas and extinction in others.
Click here to read more about fox hunting in Iceland.