Night vision guns pushed for culling Swiss boar

A debate is under way among hunters and animal rights groups in Switzerland over the controversial use of night vision guns to shoot wild boar.

Night vision guns pushed for culling Swiss boar
Photo: Richard Bartz

Such paramilitary equipment is already allowed for wildlife hunting in the cantons of Geneva, Basel Country and Thurgau.

But some hunters believe they should be banned for ethical reasons, Swiss media are reporting.

Night sighting devices allow for precise shooting in the dark.

The population of wild boar has been reportedly rising in Switzerland, resulting in extensive damage to agricultural crops in many parts of the country.

But traditional hunters believe using night vision devices is unsporting and could open the door to the use of other military weapons on wildlife.

Using prohibited military equipment on wildlife is “not good for the image” of hunting, federal hunting inspector Reinhard Schnidrig told Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Night vision guns were designed as weapons and remain regulated under the Swiss arms act, Schnidrig said.

Christian Jacques, president of Jagd Zürich, a Zurich hunting group, said improving the efficiency of hunters to reduce the “inventory” of wild nuisance animals does not justify the means, Blick reported online.

“Hunters are not a form of pest control,” he added.

But the use of night vision guns has gained support from Swiss animal protection groups and some hunters who say it is more humane.

“Hunters do better and the animal has to suffer less,” Thurgau hunting administrator Roman Kistler told SRF Radio.

Proponents note that technology has already changed hunting in other ways, with gun scopes, controversial 20 or 30 years ago, now wildly accepted.

In the canton of Zurich, parliament in March voted to approve the use of night vision equipment for hunting, while a move is afoot to also legalize it in the canton of Saint Gallen.

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Swedish regions raise limits on bear-hunting to combat attacks on reindeer

Several Swedish regions have increased the number of bears that can be killed during this year's hunting season.

Swedish regions raise limits on bear-hunting to combat attacks on reindeer
A hunter prepares to go out on the first day of the bear-hunting season in Sweden. Photo: Adam Ihse / TT

Jämtland is doubling the amount of bears that are allowed to be killed in the region this year to 200. 

The decision comes after the regional bear population has grown to 1,044 at the last count. Jämtland is hoping that the expanded license will reduce the number of bears to around 650.  

We have assessed that the heavy expansion of licensed hunting is necessary, partly to reduce the bear population to the regional target within five years,” said Emma Andersson, who is in charge of managing game and hunting for the region.

Sweden allows some licensed hunting of bears, partly because of their interference with reindeer herding, one of the main economic sectors in northern Sweden for Indigenous Sámi people.

There are around 1,000 reindeer herding companies in Sweden, and an estimated 2,500 people are dependent on incomes from reindeer herding, according to the website of the Sámi parliament.

The presence of predators in northern Sweden has become a complicated political issue as they pose a great threat to the sustainable farming practices of the Sámi. The Sámi parliament estimates that one quarter of reindeer are killed by predators each year, significantly higher than the ten percent limit set by parliament. 

At the same time, the hunting of bears and other predators like wolves must be strictly overseen by the region due to their protected status. 

The increased allowance for hunting bears in Jämtland is directed specifically towards areas where there is a clear link that it could harm the reindeer herding industry, according to the regional board.

Similar decisions have been taken in Västerbotten, where 85 bears can be killed this year compared to 25 in the previous year, and in Västernorrland where they are allowing 75, almost doubling the previous year’s figure.

While no decision has been taken yet in Norrbotten, the hunting association is demanding similar measures, as 20 bears were shot last year during the hunt and another 60 through emergency measures to protect reindeer.

The licensed hunting period takes place between August 21st and October 15th in Norrbotten every year, with some exceptions.

A count by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency found that there were around 2,900 bears in total in Sweden as of 2017.