Wilderness Policy

Europe and its protected species – Austria allows killing of the fish otter.

Europe is proud of its tremendous efforts to protected its flora and fauna and to restore its habitats. It has defined in the FFH directive a series of species which are supposedly highly protected in the EU due to their low surviving numbers. This list includes besides the wolf, also the fish otter.

The amazing fact is, that while one country is using EU funds to reintroduce the fish otter another EU country is killing them.

Please also read: Study on impact of fish otters on fish population in Upper Austrian rivers

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan envisages the re-establishment of otters in all the UK rivers and coastal areas they inhabited in 1960. The Netherlands are reintroducing the otter along their rivers and what does Austria do: it just sanctioned the killing of 40 fish otters in Lower Austria. The argument for the killing of the otters is the decrease in fish population in local streams and rivers! In Carinthia, a similar step is being prepared, where otters are removed from a whole valley and relocated to the Netherlands for the purpose of a scientific monitoring programme.

The real scandal in all of this, is that the EU laws of protecting protected species is used against protected species. One of the main argument for the killing of the fish otter in Lower Austria is its threat to other protected species, while we all know that the real threat to the fish or and any other wildlife population is the continued impact of humans on our nature.

This case in Carinthia is even more disturbing. The authorities are removing the only otter population to monitor in a scientific (and most likely financially supported) project, if the removal of the otters will positively influence the fish population.

Everyone already knows what the outcomes will be: Otters eat fish, so the fish population in absence of the otter will increase. The result of this monitoring programme will therefore provide scientific arguments for further killing or relocation of otters because of their tendency to eat fish. The main argument against the fish otter here is: it eats too many fish, so the fisherman association is threathing to the province. So we kill a protected animal so that humans can continue to fish for fun.

WWF is thinking about legal actions to stop this but as often, the local authorities do not release the documents justifying the killing – shame on anyone who believes this is an indicator for a lack of scientific reason for this drastic step.

PS: By the way, the so called highly protected fish otters are to be caught and then killed in traps and in the winter can be shot by the – TATATATA – Fishery association and fish farmer association.

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