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Hunters are responsible for nature

Due to the laying of roads, urban development and housing construction, natural areas in the Netherlands continue to decrease. Still, many animals live in the wild in our country. This is partly due to the fauna and nature management by approximately 26,500 hunters who do a lot of work in the field. The Royal Dutch Hunting Association (KNJV) protects the interests of hunters in the area of hunting, damage protection and fauna management.

The KNJV is a national organisation with 21,000 members. It studies the development of game and damaging varieties and gives advice to game management units (GMUs), local hunter cooperatives, for the management of animal species in their environment.

The tasks and responsibilities of hunters are laid down in the Flora and Fauna Act. Hunters aim for a supply of game in the field that does not form a threat to, for instance, agriculture, forestry and public safety on the one hand and provide the animals with an optimum life on the other.

Hunting is making sustainable use of nature

When hunting, hunters depart from the principle of ‘sustainable use’ of nature, also known as ‘sustainable hunting’ or ‘wise use’ in Europe. Hunters gather part of the population in such a way that it remains on a decent level. The KNJV believes that sustainable hunting contributes to the preservation of biodiversity, which is why the KNJV has joined Countdown 2010.

Almost all countries in the world met up in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 2002 for the Sustainable Development summit. They promised to reach a significant reduction of the current loss of biodiversity by 2010.

Countdown 2010 and its partners assist governments worldwide to achieve this biodiversity objective. A large number of activities focus attention on the preservation of biodiversity on all levels; decision-makers are requested to do their very best to try to preserve biodiversity, and take action to counteract the loss of biodiversity.

Due to their interest, hunters are intensely involved in the management of animal species and biotopes (habitats) and are often the first to notice the loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, hunters have been involved in the recovery and creation of biotopes for many years, because of which the loss of biodiversity is counteracted. This is why the National Administration of the KNJV decided to register the association with the Countdown 2010 initiative.

Hunters are voluntary service providers

If species of fauna have damaged or are threatening to damage agricultural crops, hunters offer their services at the request of farmers. Hunters also count animal species, so there is a proper view of the population development of these animals. Hunters also dedicate themselves to so-called habitat improvement by improving the living conditions of animals in the wild.

They also place wildlife mirrors to prevent road accidents and combat wildlife damage. Hunters also have an important signalling function with regard to poaching for which they cooperate with farmers, groundsmen and upholders. Not only wildlife benefits from the animal-friendly management of ditch banks, roadsides, the edges of lots and the maintenance of wooden banks, butterflies, birds, Mustelidae and other protected animals also benefit, which is also good for biodiversity.

Hunting, managing and counteracting

Most game is eaten in the autumn and winter, as this is the period when game is hunted. The young animals are then independent and the population at its greatest. The Flora and Fauna Act indicates five types of game in the Netherlands with their own hunting period: hare, rabbit (wild), pheasant, mallard and wood pigeon.

The partridge is also a type of game, but it is not allowed to be hunted due to its low number. Hunters are also involved in the management of large hoofed animals populations: deer, red deer, fallow deer and boar and the prevention and counteraction of damage; for instance goose. This is also why there is a choice of game for consumption all year round. In the summer, for instance, game is perfect to cook on the barbecue.

Hunters therefore also help to combat (imminent) agricultural and forestry damage: crops and newly planted trees are an attractive source of food. They eat the crops, soil or trample them, or uproot fields. The users of the land have to make a lot of effort to prevent wildlife, for instance boars and geese, from damaging their crops. They do this by placing devices that make a loud noise, flags and ribbons, scarecrows and fences. If these means do not limit the damage, farmers and foresters appeal to hunters. The government sometimes also ‘directly’ appeals to wildlife management units (cooperation between hunters), for instance, for the shooting of geese in an area around Schiphol airport as part of plane safety.

Game management units

In order to be able to carry out their work properly, hunters cooperate in game management units (GMUs). These units have an average surface area of approximately 5,000 ha. For a good harmony and coordination of hunting, management and counteracting damage there is a national network of 300 GMUs. They, for instance, map out populations and carry out provincial fauna management plans. The collected fauna data is compiled nationally in the KNJV’s GMU Databank and constitutes part of the foundation of fauna management plans.

An important element in the work of GMUs is the improvement of the living environment, the habitat of wildlife. Due to the influence of man, large parts of the Netherlands have become extremely wildlife unfriendly. GMUs try to counteract this through:

  • The upkeep and building of wooden banks;
  • Marking out remaining parts of land where farmers cannot work with their modern machines;
  • Laying out wild fields, where there is food and shelter for wildlife;
  • Mediating and offering advice in turning cultivated farmland into wasteland for the benefit of wildlife
  • Digging and maintaining small pools and ponds to benefit breeding areas and peace and quiet for water wildlife. This also benefits other types of birds, amphibians and insects;
  • Placing wildlife mirrors to prevent road accidents involving wildlife;
  • Making game savers available to farmers to prevent mowing loss;
  • Placing wildlife steps: climbable parts along the banks to help game that is stuck by the water to climb out of the sloping side of the canal.

Provincial cooperation in Fauna Management Units

Associations that enable hunting such as Staatsbosbeheer, Natuurmonumenten, Provinciale Landschappen, agriculture in general, private land owners and the Royal Dutch Hunting Association (KNJV) cooperate in Fauna Management Units on a provincial level. Fauna Management Units draw up a fauna management plan that forms the basis of the execution of the provincial fauna policy on whose basis exemption is granted for shooting managed and damage-causing wildlife. For instance to regulate the number of deer in order to prevent road accidents. Large numbers cause a lot of unrest, because of which these animals cross roads when looking for new habitats.

Based on the Flora and Fauna Act

The implementation of Dutch wildlife management is based on the Flora and Fauna Act. This act lays down the requirements and obligations of hunters. One of the requirements is that hunting is only allowed after passing a difficult hunting exam and an intensive training course.
It states that hunters are obliged to keep the game supply up and prevent and counteract damage caused by wildlife to forestry and agriculture. The Flora and Fauna Act also includes hunting ground requirements, namely an area of at least 40 continuous ha.

Eating game

Eating game has always been popular: it is tasty meat without any artificial colourings and flavourings. Getting this meat on the table requires hunting. The intensity of hunting in the Netherlands depends on the game supply or the extent to which animals cause damage. Shooting is therefore not determined by the demand for game, which is a good thing as there is so much demand that 95% of the consumed game has to be imported.

Want to know more?

Royal Dutch Hunting Association 
Postbus 1165, 3800 BD Amersfoort
Tel: +31 (0)33 – 4619841
Fax: +31 (0)33 – 4651355