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Minister meets hunters to discuss policy.

Author:

Patrick Dewhurst

INTERIOR Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis met with representatives of the Cyprus Federation for Hunting and Wildlife Conservation yesterday to discuss their priorities ahead of a parliamentary debate on a game fund reform bill.

Federation chairman Antonis Kakoullis said yesterday there were four key problems that were impacting on the environment and hunting. These were the increased administrative costs, which drew funds away from game-rearing, decreasing wildlife due to wind farms, illegal property developments which reduce habitat, and poaching.

On the issue of the existing wind farms in Orites in Paphos and Alexigros in Larnaca, and a forthcoming 20 Megawatt wind farm in Ayia Anna near Larnaca, Kakoullis said these were a serious problem because of their impact on nearby ecology.

The problem of the wind farms is linked to the illegally built housing in natural areas as both reduce hunting areas and wildlife. "We have a difficult situation with ongoing illegal developments and houses which are being built everywhere. This limits the animals' habitats and also many of the residents do not want the hunting near their houses."

He added: "These houses are destroying habitat without returning anything to wildlife or the ecosystem."

Asked about the threat to wildlife and local ecology from poaching, Kakoullis said "We discussed the issue of illegal hunting of partridge, hare and moufflon, and the use of (mist) nets."

Mist nets are used in conjunction with taped birdsong to trap small migratory birds in order to make a local delicacy, ambelopoulia. Both methods are illegal but continue due to shortage of policing.

Kakoulis said the minister was positive about the idea of increasing the number of police, but they were unable to do this immediately. Instead, the minister proposed to review the situation and meet again in a month with "specific suggestions on how to improve cooperation between the Ministry, the Game Fund and the Federation, improve aspects of the game breeding programme and make hunting more enjoyable for hunters."

Regarding rising administrative costs the Minister said "I have reaffirmed the government's intention to progressively increase the Game Fund to cover its administrative costs, so that the sum collected by the state from the issuing of licenses to hunters can be used to enriching game."

Speaking more generally, Sylikiotis said he was satisfied with the progress of debate in the house interior committee on a game fund reform bill which would go far to resolve wildlife conservation and hunting issues.

The minister said he anticipated a good forthcoming partridge and hare season, after improved weather conditions over the past year.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Sep 29, 2010
Words:439
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