Success for fox hunting ban in Luxembourg

In 2015, Luxembourg excluded the fox from their list of game species. The local hunting association predicted highly increasing fox populations and a rise in the transmission of game diseases. However, none of their predictions came true – the infection reate of the so-called fox tapeworm even decreased since the hunting ban is in place.

What hunting does to fox populations

In the same period, the German province of Saarland, which has the same size as Luxembourg, shot around 12 000 red foxes. The hunting, however, did not have significant impacts on the overall fox population number of the region. In Luxembourg as well as in Saarland the populations sizes are approximately the same as they were four years ago. This underlines the findings of several scientific studies which prove that intensive hunting does not reduce the population numbers of foxes in the medium-term. Foxes react to intense hunting with higher numbers of offspring. Fox territories which have been shot empty are occupied again by immigrating individuals from neighbouring territories.

The department of nature and forestry management of Luxembourg did not identify any problems arising from the hunting ban on foxes. There are no sings for an increase of the fox population or a rise in foxes infected with the so-called fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis). On the contrary, the percantage of infected animals decreased since the implementation of the hunting ban. In 2014, when foxes were still hunted, around 40% of the country’s population were infected. In 2017 only 25% of Luxembourg’s foxes had the fox tapeworm.

No arguments left supporting the fox hunt

The situation in Luxembourg proves that there are no sound arguments supporting the fox hunt. The German “Aktionsbündis Fuchs” recently published a short summery taking a closer look on often used arguments to advocate for the fox hunt. Their explanations go in line with what the situation in Luxembourg shows. This was also confirmed by the administrative court of Luxembourg, who rejected the request of the country’s hunting association to stop the hunting ban. The Green party of Luxembourg (Dei Greng) as well as the country’s state secretary for sustainable development and infrastructure, Claude Turmes, announced to stick with the hunting ban no matter what. The scientific data and present results of the hunting ban on foxes clearly speak for its continuation.

Hunting and Wilderness are not compatible

Hunting is not allowed in Wilderness. As this case of Luxembourg and the province of Saarland proves, hunting changes the behaviour of animals, mostly in negative ways. Wilderness should be a place where wild animals find refuge, where they can strive and evolve without any pressure of being shot. Unfortunately, animals like foxes, deer or ibex, are frequently shot even within protected areas. Often with the justification of disease control or to enable forest re-juvination.

Particularly predators have important far-reaching effects on an ecosystem. Wolves and foxes are often called the doctors of the forest as they preferably prey on sick and old animals. This increases the overall health of, for example, deer populations. Several cases, such as the famous Calanda wolf pack, underline the positive effects of predators on an ecosystem. In the absence of natural predators, hunters are supposed to step in this role. In reality, however, it is often the deer with the largest antlers that is hunted, not the sickly or old ones.

Stay up to date with our Newsletter!

You May Also Like

Please Leave a Comment

Join more 100+ forest experts demanding a radical change in German forestry management.

Sign the Open Letter to the German Federal Minister of Forestry and Agriculture

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.

Motto: SYSTEMIC FOREST ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT INSTEAD OF WOOD FACTORY

**your signature**

Share this with your friends:

%d bloggers like this: