The Albanian government has banned hunting of mammals and birds within the country’s borders.
The new law was approved on January 30 and suspends hunting licenses and use of hunting areas for two years, according to National Geographic.
The Balkan country is a migratory bird haven, consisting of major traveling patterns for millions of birds. A combination of loose regulating, increased gun ownership and a surge of foreign hunters convinced the government to stop what had become “a year-round shooting range.”
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Illegal hunting of eagles and songbirds, as well as low numbers of roe deer and chamois, led to the ban.
“Albania was a death trap for migrating birds,” said Gabriel Schwaderer, executive director of the conservation organization EuroNatur.
The government in Albania is under the power of a new political party, elected last June. A National Geographic article from last year was said to have helped motivate the banned hunting rules.
Stories of rich Italian tourists bribing low wage employees at national parks to serve as hunting guides have circulated, and the moratorium will ideally stop the illegal taking of game from unauthorized land in the country. With no hunting allowed anywhere, there will be no exceptions.
“It’s really an impressive and groundbreaking decision that Albania took,” Schwaderer said in the National Geographic piece. “I can imagine that some of the hotel owners are not so happy, because probably they will have fewer visitors, especially hunters from Italy. But on the other side, they have a great opportunity, because only if they stop this crime will they receive bird-watchers and other visitors interested in ecotourism.”
Hunters who had been abiding by the laws and regulations, despite a lack of leadership and enforcement, have received the short end of the stick in the situation.
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