Now let us have a closer look at hunting. For more than 100 000 years, people have been part of nature, they have hunted and been the prey. However, in the last decades hunting has aroused ambivalence or outright opposition. Animal rights activists say we must not take a life of another creature. On one hand, they are right, on the other hand, if we have a deeper look at the hunt and the reasons for it we might get a more comprehensive idea and should not reject the concept from the start.
The controversial relationship of humans and wildlife
People are impressed by the king of the forest: Roaring red deer males with their majestic antlers are a symbol of strength and of pristine nature. We love red deer. However, if they enter our backyards at night, turning the compost upside down and eating the Christmas-decoration at the door, red deer disturb us. They disturb foresters by feeding on tree-shoots, by rubbing their antlers against branches and peeling the bark off trees. They damage timber-forests and endanger protection-forests that shelter human settlements from natural hazards. Sometimes people view red deer as a pest…
People are fascinated by wild boar. Wild boar and men have a long common history, since the “wild pig” is the ancestor of our domestic pig. Due to their massive bodyweight of up to 150kg we fear but also admire wild boar at the same time. However, if they plough our favourite golf course, we start hating them. They are hated by farmers for digging insect larva out of meadows and pasture land, and for feeding on maize, wheat and other crop. Wild boar can cause large financial damage to agriculture. Sometimes people view wild boar as a pest…
People think that red fox are clever and fox puppies are cute. However, if they mess our garbage bag, steel our rubber boots or start digging their burrow in our garden, we call the gamekeeper or the police. And we are afraid of the plagues that are transmitted by the red fox.
So it seems that our “wild world view” is alright as long as “the wild” remains in the wilderness. Hence we define boundaries between our worlds: We fence the highways with wildproof fences, we fence our gardens with a blockade of exotic thuja, we fence the vineyards and the fields, and some would even like to fence the forest… So humans try to assign a place for everything: For infrastructures, for outdoor activities, for the wild. But sometimes wildlife does not respect our boundaries…
Hunting as a part of wildlife management
Here wildlife management comes to the picture. And yes, you understood it correctly – it includes the hunt. The aim of wildlife management is to keep a balance between human and wildlife demands.
If we, humans, do not regulate the growth of wild species in a reasonable and controlled manner, nature will do it itself and maybe in not such a responsible manner. For nature, diseases and predators are predominant means to maintain equilibrium. Or if the population becomes very large, the well-known survival of the fittest takes effect, by the perishing of weak animals e.g. in harsh winters. Today also traffic collisions are a considerable cause of death to wildlife. So we need to consider that starving, dying of a road accident or an infectious disease might be much more painful and torturous for the animal than to be culled.
Cervo Volante only uses skins of animals which are being harvested by way of sustainable, controlled and regulated hunt. Hunters are the link between wildlife administrations in the Swiss cantons and the fulfilment of the regulation plan. Every hunter has to pass a hunting exam and either buy a hunting licence or be a member of an association which leases the hunting ground. They are only allowed to hunt the amount and species prescribed in the hunting management plans for their specific hunting area. In order to waste as little as possible, it is almost a must to make the most of the high-quality skins which would otherwise be wasted. Just like in the old times when hunters used almost every part of the hunted animal: meat, fat, skin, fur, bone, sinew. As regards our products, they are produced with all due respect to animals and nature in mind. Therefore we treat the animal skins as ecologically as possible by using natural substances such as oak acorns or natural oils for the tanning process. We do our outmost that our customers can wear our boots, jackets and coats proudly and with clean conscience.
Facts and Figures:
Estimated population sizes in Switzerland1:
Red deer: ~35’000, population increase
Roe deer: ~ 120’000 – 140’000, population size difficult to estimate’
Wild boar: cannot be counted, road kills and hunting kills increasing
Red fox: cannot be counted, road kills increasing
Red deer: ~ 12’000, increasing every year
Roe deer: ~ 40’000, stable in the last years
Wild boar: ~ 4’000 – 10’000, increasing every year
Red fox: ~ 20’000 – 30’000, decreasing in the last years
Type of damage
Red deer: feeding on tree-shoots, rubbing antlers against branches, peeling the bark of trees
Roe deer: feeding on tree-shoots, rubbing antlers against branches
Wild boar: digging insect larva out of meadows and pasture land, feed on maize, wheat, vine and other crop
Damage quantities and finance
Depending on the Cantons either hunters pay a different amount to the compensation of damages, the rest of the compensation or in some Cantons all compensation is paid by the state.
Red deer and roe deer in the forest: (no useful number available, and a tricky thing, because its often foresters and forest lobby against hunters and hunting lobby). But an interesting estimation in Germany shows that there is about 250‘000 euros /day used for the construction of fences against damages by wildlife2. The cost of wildlife-traffic collisions in Germany is approx. 1.6 Mio. Euro per day2.
Wild boar: 2 – 3.5 Mio. CHF per year for the compensation of famers for agricultural damages caused by wild boar1.
Consumption of venison in Switzerland3:
Approx. 4500 – 5200 tons per year or 0.5 kg per person
25-30% of the whole venison consumption is covered with hunted animals from Switzerland
1 Eidgenössische Jagdstatistik, Bundesamt für Umwelt: www.uzh.ch/wild/ssl-dir/jagdstatistik
2 Martin Strein: Zum Umgang mit Wildunfällen, FVA-Einblick 3/2011 S. 18-20.
3Bundesamt für Statistik – Fleischbilanz