THE FACE REPORT

A SUMMARY FROM FACE, EXCLUSIVELY FOR ITS MEMBERS

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May 2024


Message from the FACE Secretary General

 

Dr. David Scallan – Secretary General

Dear FACE Members,

We are heading into the European elections, which will play a major role in shaping hunting and conservation policies for the next five years in Europe. What’s decided in Brussels also affects non-EU countries and frequently influences how the rest of the world tackles environmental policy issues. FACE’s Election Task Force has been busy sharing good practices, for example, where Members have been interviewing political parties and candidates.

Several files continue to dominate FACE’s work, including the downlisting of the wolf, new animal welfare rules for dogs, and preparations for upcoming changes to bird hunting at the European level. I am pleased many Members remain actively engaged with the office in Brussels and through FACE’s working groups. It’s also clear that many Members have numerous national challenges related to hunting and conservation, and we have been busy providing advice where possible.

Finally, the annual Members’ survey will be in your inboxes shortly, so please respond before 16 June to ensure we understand the effectiveness of our work and can better deliver our vision: A Europe rich in biodiversity and hunting opportunities.

We hope you enjoy the May month report.

Regards,
Dr. David Scallan
Secretary General, FACE


Why Hunters Must Vote in the European Elections – #UseYourVote

FRANÇAIS

The European elections, scheduled for 6-9 June, will be decisive for the future of hunting and conservation in Europe. Currently, eighty percent of the national rules and regulations affecting hunting and conservation today come from Brussels. What’s decided in Brussels also affects non-EU countries and frequently influences how the rest of the world tackles environmental policy issues.

The next European Parliament will have the opportunity to advance policies that benefit biodiversity and rural communities. These policies can include reversing biodiversity loss, addressing species declines, large carnivore management, and restoring habitats. Decisions in Brussels will also affect the bird species, which can be hunted and large carnivore management. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may also be required to make decisions on what types of firearms and ammunition can be used in the future.

From 6-9 June, European citizens will elect 720 MEPs for the coming 5-year political term. This is an increase from today’s 705 MEPs. The population size of a Member State determines the number of MEPs. No Member State can have more than 96 members or fewer than 6. Currently, Germany has 96 MEPs, while Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta each have six members.

This election will extend its influence beyond the European Parliament. It will also affect the election of the President of the European Commission, as well as the hearings and evaluations of the EU Commissioners.

FACE recommends that European hunters go to the polls fully aware of what your elected politicians and political groups have done during their time in Brussels. What major decisions have been made which affect hunters? Who are the candidates in the upcoming election, and where do they stand on hunting and conservation issues? What decisions affecting hunting and conservation are expected from the next Parliament?

The Importance for Hunters to Engage and Vote
Despite the enormous influence that EU decisions have on our everyday lives, the interest and participation in EU elections are relatively low compared to national elections. The average voting turnout in the Union was around 50% in the last election (2019)— ranging from 88% in Belgium (where voting is mandatory) to a record-low 22% turnout in Slovakia. Low voter turnout means that citizens who do vote have a significant chance of shaping the future direction of EU policy.

Conversely, groups and interests that do not make their voices heard during the campaigns or do not show up at the polling stations risk having their lives dictated by opposing interests. In other words, the hunting community must engage in the coming elections in significant numbers.

As the saying goes, if you do not vote, you cannot complain afterwards!


EU “Firearms” Regulation revised

What happened:
On 23 April 2024, the European Parliament voted in favour of the recast1 to the EU Firearms Regulation, officially known as Regulation 258/2012 on import, export and transit measures for firearms, their essential components and ammunition. The text voted on was already agreed upon during the inter-institutional negotiations (the so-called trilogue) between the European Parliament and Council (governments) negotiating teams. The Council is now expected to give a green light to the text in the upcoming weeks.

Why it matters:
The new text establishes simplified procedures for EU hunters, sport shooters and historical reenactors travelling outside the EU with their firearms (and ammunition). Similar provisions are already present in the current Regulation 258/2012. The novelty is represented by the introduction of a single import authorisation, which is a simplified procedure for hunters, sport shooters, and historical reenactors travelling into the EU with their firearms and ammunition (art.11).

This is an important step to ensure that there is a single import authorisation procedure in place, but it is also a missed opportunity for simplification. The requirements for an individual travelling into the EU with firearms can be quite burdensome as he/she has to provide:

  • Information on the planned exit point and exit date of the firearms;
  • A proof or statement of the absence of a criminal record concerning conduct constituting an offence listed in Article 2(2) of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA,or concerning any other conduct provided that it constituted an offence punishable by a maximum penalty of at least four years of imprisonment amongst other information he/she has to provide.

What’s next:
According to the newly adopted text, Member States may still grant a national general import authorisation in specific cases where hunters, sport shooters and historical reenactors have been invited to an activity on the premises of an organiser. In this case, these individuals need to comply with the terms and conditions defined in the national general import authorisation. In practical terms, hunters will have the choice of applying for an EU import authorisation (and complying with the requirements listed above) or applying for a national import authorisation.

It is important to keep in mind that art. 11.6 gives the power to the European Commission (by means of implementing acts) to specify the minimum requirements of the terms and conditions to be included in the national general authorisations so this will lead to a certain degree of harmonisation for national import authorisations. It remains to be seen how this will impact those Member States where a simplified procedure for non-EU hunters, sport shooters and historical reenactors travelling with their firearms and ammunition is in place.

1- The recasting of legislation means the adoption of a new legal act, when an amendment is made to a basic instrument. The result is a single, legally binding act incorporating the initial legal act and any amendments to it.

For more information, contact valentina.siddi@face.eu and see here: https://www.face.eu/2024/04/eu-firearms-regulation-revised/


What’s happening with Protected Areas?

What happened:
At the meeting of the Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives (NADEG) on 14 May, an update was provided on the Member State pledges for reaching the 30% protected area target, including 10% Strictly Protected Areas. Even though the deadline has passed, progress is slow and pledges are still being requested by the European Commission. So far, only 6 Member States have submitted their pledges, with another 2 in the pipeline. Some Member States expressed difficulties in designating strictly protected areas or being able to submit complete information for the pledges. The informal response was that an incomplete pledge is better than no pledge.

Considering the lack of progress, the European Commission asked for ideas of how else the commitments in the EU Biodiversity Strategy could be achieved? What other approach would help Member States to achieve the same outcome by 2030? Could “Other Effective Area Based Conservation Measures” (OECMs) contribute to the target? The reply to the questions was limited.

Why it matters:
When submitting pledges for strictly protected areas, Member States must explain why these types of sites qualify as strictly protected areas according to the definition in the Commission Guidance, although there is some confusion on the definitions in these guidelines. It is important that this confusion, real or intentional, does not lead to blanket bans on hunting. One comment at the meeting was that an overly restrictive definition would make it very difficult to find 10% strictly protected areas.

What’s next:
A workshop dedicated to strictly protected areas will take place in Brussels in October this year. This will be an important event to take stock and plan next steps. The big question is whether the Commission will consider that progress by Member State progress is insufficient to meet the 2030 targets, and that new EU legislation is needed on protected areas.

Also see:
Which Member States have submitted pledges: https://reportnet.europa.eu/public/dataflow/703

FACE OECM webinar: https://www.face.eu/2023/12/what-future-for-other-effective-conservation-measures-oecms-in-the-context-of-the-eu-biodiversity-strategy-for-2030/

For further information, please contact cy.griffin@face.eu


High priority for the welfare of dogs and cats in the Council

What happened:
Last December, the European Commission launched a new package on animal welfare that includes a proposal for the welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability, and a proposal for the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

After analysing the proposals and consulting with its members, FACE replied to both public consultations launched by the Commission, outlining its concerns. Further, our team met with the EC unit responsible for the proposals, MEPs, Permanent Representations of several Member States, and other stakeholders such as the European Federation of Veterinarians and Animal Health Europe representing the animal health industry.

Why it matters:
The proposal on the  welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability establishes harmonized rules for breeding establishments, shelters and pet shops to tackle illegal trade (which includes the breeding, keeping and placing on the market) of dogs and cats, which are often kept in less than suboptimal conditions with repercussion on the health and behaviour of the animals. 

One of the most important elements of the proposal is the threshold (3 bitches and 2 litters per calendar year) above which a person can be defined as a breeder (and their household classified as a breeding establishment). Private users with big dog packs (e.g., hunters, farmers) can be caught by the scope of the regulation as the definition of the placing on the market is very broad, since it includes any transfer of ownership of the animal (a donation can be included).

The obligations set out in the regulation include not only registration and identification of the dog or cat, but also the obligation to notify the breeding or keeping of dogs and cats in establishments, animal welfare competencies of animal caretakers, animal welfare visits by a veterinarian  (including the obligation to keep records of the visit for at least 6 years), housing , the ban of painful practices (such as the use of e-collars and tail docking), approval of breeding establishments.

Our meetings with European policymakers and stakeholders have been essential to assess the political state of play, understand the different views Member States have on the proposal, and transmit our concerns in order to mitigate the proposals’ impact on the European hunting sector.

What’s next:
Although the European Parliament is not currently working on either of the two proposals due to the upcoming European elections, the Belgian Presidency decided to give priority to the proposal on the welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability as several EU surveys such as the EU barometer shows that the welfare of pets is of high concern to EU citizens.  It aims to reach an agreement on its official position by the end of June.

FACE will continue discussing the file with its Members and Brussels stakeholders.

For further information, please contact valentina.siddi@face.eu and luis.costa@face.eu


Changing the wolf’s protection status: An update on the state of play

What happened:
On 20 December 2023, the European Commission proposed to change the international status of wolves from “strictly protected” to “protected” based on new data on increased population and impacts. 

Under the EU’s Belgium presidency, this proposal was discussed in the Working Party of International Environmental Issues (WPIEI) in February and April. No decision was taken in this working group, which is made up of experts from national governments, but the discussion has shown that an agreement will be difficult to achieve. 

Driven by some Member States in favor of the change, the topic was also on the agenda of EU Council meetings in May. 

Why it matters:
Changing the wolf’s protection status under the Bern Convention (BC) is a precondition for any future changes under the Habitats Directive. Certainly, Switzerland and some non-EU countries will ask for this change at the next Standing Committee (SC) in December 2024, as they did in previous years. The EU must arrive at the Bern Convention SC with a clear positive position to succeed with this change. If the EU position is negative, then the subject may not be returning to the EU agenda for several years. The third possibility is that the EU arrives at the BC with no decision, which could be preferable to a negative position as it will keep the file open for further discussions. 

What’s next:
This proposition needs to be voted on at the Council level, with a qualified majority representing 65% of the European population. It is now for the Member States to decide on this proposal. It is important for each FACE Member association to continue to push for a favorable vote.

Another step supported by several Member States is to wait for the next Art. 17 reporting under the Habitats Directive, where new data will be submitted. National reports must be submitted to the Commission and made accessible to the public in June 2025. 

The Commission will then prepare a report based on the national reports, including an appropriate evaluation of the progress achieved. The final version of the report shall be published by the Commission, not later than two years after receipt of the national reports. This can drive us towards a long process. 

For further information, please contact: guillaume.agede@face.eu 


European Commission expected to publish its legal proposal to ban lead in the second half of 2024

After a long process, ECHA published its formal “opinion” for a restriction on lead in ammunition last March (2023). It proposed that the EU should restrict the use of lead ammunition in hunting and sport shooting. This will also affect EEA countries and Northern Ireland. ECHA’s final opinion is available here: www.echa.europa.eu/…/

The following restrictions are proposed by ECHA:

  • Lead shot: Ban on the placing on the market of lead shot together with a ban on its use for hunting. Transitional period of 5 years. However, ECHA’s committees (RAC and SEAC) consider that the proposed 5 years is too long and propose 18 months.
  • Centrefire lead ammunition for rifles: Ban on the use of lead bullets for hunting (seal hunting and full metal jackets excluded). Transitional period of 18 months.
  • Rimfire lead ammunition for rifles: Lead rimfire bullets can be used for hunting for 5 years. This transitional period is combined with a review considering whether good alternatives are available before the end of 5 years.
  • Lead shot in shooting ranges: Ban on the use of lead shot for sport shooting. Transitional period of 5 years. However, a very narrow use of lead shot can continue if shooting ranges have extensive risk management measures in place (for example annual lead recovery of at least 90%).
  • Rifle shooting in shooting ranges: Ban on the use of lead rifle ammunition for sports shooting. Transitional period of 5 years. Use of lead bullets can continue if ranges have risk management measures in place.

Next steps:
The European Commission (EC) has already spent 12 months assessing ECHA’s opinion. FACE understands that the EC may publish its legal proposal in the second half of 2024 to advance discussions in the EU REACH Committee (between Member States and the EC). These discussions could take several months before a vote is cast (depending on the level of debate). After the REACH Committee, the legal proposal will be subject to 3 months “scrutiny” in the European Parliament. 


FACE’s Flemish Member (HVV) organises workshop around hunting and innovation

What is it:
Beglium’s PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Hubertus Vereniging Flanders (HVV) organised a workshop for interested students about sustainable hunting. The day focused on current innovations in wildlife management, including the need for broad-based objective game counts, European policy influence on hunting in Flanders, and modern technologies such as camera traps, drones, artificial intelligence, and developments in lead-free ammunition. FACE was invited to present on the influence of Brussels on hunting and conservation as well as the current proposal to downlist the wolf under the Bern Convention.

Whyit matters:
The study day organized by PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the HVV was important as it educated students on wildlife management and technological advancements in hunting. It highlighted the significance of accurate wildlife data and sustainable hunting while facilitating discussions and promoting networking among professionals.

What’snext:
PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts and HVV are aiming to continue this series of events in the next years.

For further information, please contact sabrina.dietz@face.eu   


Conservation Champions: Estonia’s Resounding Support for Sustainable Hunting

Tallinn – A national survey conducted in Estonia has highlighted strong public support for sustainable hunting practices, confirming that a vast majority of Estonians recognise the importance of regulated hunting.

In its commitment to map and strengthen the alignment between societal values and wildlife conservation efforts, FACE has embarked on an annual social acceptance survey across multiple European nations. The intent is to regularly gauge and reaffirm the public’s backing, which, alongside scientific evidence, underpins the support for sustainable hunting practices.

Key Survey Insights:

  • Widespread Support for Hunting: An impressive 88% of participants either support or do not object to legal hunting practices in Estonia. This indicates a broad societal endorsement for hunting when it adheres to the country’s regulations and traditions.
  • Potential for Enhanced Familiarity: Despite the support, there is a notable lack of in-depth knowledge about hunting and the laws which regulate it among the public, with 52% of respondents unfamiliar with specific practices and regulations. This points towards a need for increased public education and outreach.
  • Conservation Through Hunting: A strong majority, 77%, agree that keeping parts of a legally hunted animal as a keepsake is acceptable, especially if the hunting activity supports conservation efforts and follows international guidelines.

This data was collected between February 28 and March 7, 2024, with exactly 1000 respondents completing the survey, from an initial pool of 1137 participants. The careful design of the survey ensured a representative and reliable sample of the Estonian population.

The Estonian Hunters’ Association, in cooperation with FACE, has taken this opportunity to shed light on the positive perception of sustainable hunting within the Estonian community.

FACE’s Commitment: FACE is dedicated to fostering informed conversations about hunting and conservation. Recognising hunting as an integral part of sustainable conservation practices, FACE encourages a dialogue based on understanding and solid evidence.

Looking Ahead: These survey results serve as a crucial consideration for policy development and our community discussions around hunting and wildlife management. FACE advocates for policies that reflect the public’s support and understanding, aiming for a future where hunting is synonymous with conservation and cultural heritage.

About FACE: FACE is committed to the conservation of wildlife through sustainable hunting, advocating for hunting traditions, and promoting biodiversity conservation across Europe.

For more information, please contact:
Tristan Breijer – FACE Policy Advisor Email: tristan.breijer@face.eu


Animal health section-May’s updates     

African Swine Fever     

  • Italy (last update: 19.05.2024)  

The number of wild boars found dead due to African swine fever has risen to 1.508 (656 in Piemonte and 852 in Liguria) according to the Zooprophylactic Institute of Liguria Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta.   

Here is the map of the infected areas: https://www.izsplv.it/it/component/publiccompetitions/document/3085.html?view=document&id=3085:positivi_2024_05_19_zone_restrizione&Itemid=403

  • ASF.WB A.S.F. in wild boar   

Total outbreaks from 1/01/2024 until 12/04/2024

Country    N° of outbreaks       

  • Germany                          81           
  • Hungary                            189             
  • Italy                                    713         
  • Latvia                                  60           
  • Lithuania                           249              
  • Poland                                748         
  •  Romania                            94         
  • Serbia                                  71            
  • Ukraine                               8            
  • Burlgaria                             91     
  • Croatia                                 38       
  • Czech Republic                 11      
  • Estonia                                  4         
  • Greece                                   14      
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina   34
  • Moldova                               6
  • Montenegro                        1
  • Slovakia                               65
  • Sweden                                 1
  • Albania                                  2

Avian Influenza  

General situation(last update: 22.05.2024)  

The total number of avian influenza cases notified by each Member States/Reporting Countries in different epidemiological units (commercial poultry farm, backyard farms, other captive birds and wild birds) is below complemented by a link to an interactive map.   

Total outbreaks: 968 -Wild birds: 637    

Map of outbreaks and HPIA: EURL Avian Flu Data Portal (izsvenezie.it)   

For further information, please contact konstantina.katrimpouza@face.eu.  

Try to align these strain in the MR if possible? Perhaps do it in word first or put in a table?


Wildlife Reflectors and Roadkill Reduction in Estonia

Wildlife-vehicle collisions pose significant safety and economic challenges. In Estonia, such collisions increased from 1,332 to 4,400 annually between 2014 and 2018. In response, the Estonian Hunters’ Society (EHS) launched the “Wild Game on Roads” project to reduce roadkill, selecting wildlife reflectors by Beilharz GmbH as the mitigation measure. 

Wildlife reflectors, often thought to be typically less effective than fencing or animal detection systems, were chosen due to their unique design. The specific reflectors used were designed to maximize light reflection and optical perception by wildlife, with a 120° horizontal radiation angle to create a broad barrier.

From 2020 to 2022, reflectors were installed on 67 high-collision road sections (200-3,500 meters each), with 65 nearby sections serving as controls. Local hunters collected roadkill data via the Hunters’ Information System (JAHIS).

The study showed a significant reduction in roe deer collisions. On average, 36 to 58 roe deer were spared per 1 km section, saving insurance companies 90,000 to 145,000 Euros over three years. While these reflectors proved effective, further research is needed on long-term effects and impacts on other species.

Read the full project HERE.


We want hunting-related conservations projects!

The FACE Biodiversity Manifesto is the largest database of hunting-related conservations projects in Europe. If you know of, or are involved in, a project related to conservation that includes hunters, please share some basic facts here or send the survey to the responsible person. We are looking for all types of projects, small or big, private or public, completed, still ongoing or under development, etc.

FACE’s Biodiversity Manefesto updated Form:
FACE is continuing to gather projects from across Europe to establish a database illustrating the essential role which hunting plays in conservation. This is vital in helping us to establish a concrete case to policymakers.

Please use our updated form to submit a short description of a project in your country and how it benefits your local or regional biodiversity, whether on a large or small scale.

We will follow up by contacting you for more detailed information. Many thanks for all who have contributed their projects, we look forward to discovering many more.

For further information, please contact: sabrina.dietz@face.eu


FACE Activity Report 2023

FACE is proud to publish its Activity Report for 2023. French and German language versions will follow soon. To read the report please click here.


Exclusive THE SPORTING LIFE Offer for FACE Members!

FACE has been kindly offered a free edition of ‘The Sporting Life’ magazine for its members to try out.

The Sporting Life is a journey of imagination and expression, focused on the most exclusive and alluring destinations, adventures, and the finest kit obtainable anywhere. Our goal is to inspire our readers with unique stories and magnificent photography, bringing adventures to life in a fashion never before attempted. From the finest luxury watchmakers to the most superb bespoke firearms crafted by hand, follow us as we showcase the luxury sporting lifestyle in artistic fashion.

To activate your free digital subscription, follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit the website: The Sporting Life
  2. Click on the “Subscribe” button, which will take you directly to the sign-up page.
  3. Select the ”1 year digital version
  4. Fill out the required information.
  5. In the discount code section, enter FACE2024.
  6. Submit your details to enjoy your complimentary subscription!

We hope you take full advantage of this offer and enjoy the rich content they have created for you. The editor has expressed his interest in featuring European hunting news in the future. Should you have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.


FACE PATRON PROGRAMME

In 2020, the FACE unveiled its new Patron Programme, which provides industry and other organisations with a means to support a strong future for hunting and conservation. “The FACE Patron Programme opens the door for a stronger FACE to set the best context for hunting and conservation in Europe” – FACE President Torbjörn Larsson


UPCOMING MEETINGS & EVENTS

  • 28-29 May: EU Nature Directors’ meeting, Brussels
  • 5 June: EU LC Platform plenary meeting 5 June, hybrid
  • 6-8 June: AFEMS General Assembly, Turkey
  • 11-13 June: Regional LC meeting in Bulgaria
  • 18 June: Board meeting, Brussels​
  • 18-20 June: AEWA EGMP IWG9 + Task Force mtg 17 June, online
  • 28 June: 6th meeting of the TFRB – Annex II, online
  • 12-19 July: CITES AC33, Geneva
  • 16 September: CMS Flyways meeting, hybrid​
  • 17-20 September: CMS Sessional Committee meeting of the Scientific Council, Bonn, Germany
  • ​24-25 September: FACE General Assembly, Brussels​
  • 12 November: Board meeting, Brussels
FACE – European Federation for Hunting and Conservation

The European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), established in 1977, represents the national hunting associations in 37 countries comprising of 7,000,000 hunters as an international non-profit-making non-governmental organisation (INGO). FACE is the Voice of European Hunters, we ensure hunting remains good for hunters, society and nature. www.face.eu

FACE – Rue Belliard 205, 1000 Brussels, Belgium – +3227326900 – communication@face.eu