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Uncontrolled Hunting in Picos De Europa

titanni' harvestmoon

Royal Decree 1803/1999, of 26 of November, for the Plan to the approved Director of the Network of National Parks establishes: 
-- In a National Park 'the conditions of naturalness and ecological functionality must PREDOMINATE WIDELY. Human intervention on its values must be LITTLE' (Annexe II). 
-- 'The activities that are developed in the Parks will have the same high-priority objective as both the conservation of their natural values and the activities that sustain it. Anything that is done has to be compatible with the perpetuation of these values' (Annexe III Directives of management). 
-- 'People should act with the minimum interference with nature' (Directives in relation to the natural resources. Annexe III). 
-- The historical natural advantages of Parks -- for instance the advantage of having grass -- should not have a negative ecological impact and should be compatible with and subject to conservation of natural values. For this reason, when it is necessary, THEY WILL BE STRONGLY ENFORCED, in order to be compatible with the objectives of the Park' (Annexe III traditional Directives in relation to operations and the advantages and uses).

* Dead pregnant she-wolf in the National Park of Picos de Europa 29-5-2007

After having outlined the law, I will be set out the proven facts, registered and allowed by the people in charge who are designated for 'conserving'  natural and privileged surroundings in which 'human intervention on its values must be LITTLE'. 

The protection under which the massacre of the Iberian Wolf is carried out is 'population control of the species'. The existence of a group of guards called the GAL (Group Anti Wolf) that enjoys killing as an example and does not despise some of them occasionally going too far in the fulfillment of that order and eliminating more animals than is allowed, knowing that the excuse of 'I thought that was a dog'. That is the excuse used for all the massacres of Wolves, and use it as a defence with the Environment Council of the Principality of Asturias and the Direction of the National Park of the Picos de Europa. 

The cattle dealers have eliminated, by shooting or with poison, in many areas, all the species of animals that might endanger their interests, without counting the collateral damage that has bee caused, the effect of which is not known.  This is and has been the case with the bear, the wolf and other 'noxious animals' (as they call them). And it would be the case with the wild boar, the fox and the red deer, were it not for existing laws that force their conservation. 
The excessive number of heads of cattle existing in the Asturian zone of the Park has contributed to the gradual reduction of the forests, turning them at the present time into authentic 'fossil forests'. As a result the urogallo [a wild cock] has almost disappeared and may be added to the long list of species that have been exterminated, which in the medium term may apply to the Atlantic forest (alredy very scarce in the mid Picos area).  
The 'traditional' practice of clearing by setting fire to the fields has caused alteration and erosion of several areas with destruction of the affected habitats, and which damages conservation of the flora and the fauna that integrated them together. 

* The lobeznos(wolf cubs)  that the she-wolf was bringing up that was killed by the National Park Guard, by order of Director of Conservation, in a search made in the mounain of Varera and the Col of Pand--bano in May of 2007. It was hunted in spite of the warnings resulting from different technical studies and the ill-judged conclusions from the results of the studies. 

The main problem is with the cattle dealers and shepherds that do not want to coexist with the wolf, nor with the wild boar, nor with the fox, nor with the scrub, nor with the royal eagle, nor with the bear, nor with the protected natural spaces,' in short, not with anything that provides competition with their interests or forces them to change the handling of their cattle and to return to the traditional ways, their aim being TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FLOCK. This it is the real problem. However, in the end when everything returns to their correct dimension: there will be professional shepherds, who truely will be taking care of of their cattle, which will imply less damage to the wolves. 

The most unacceptable of all is that, according to official data, less than 10 cattle dealers have applied in the last years for help to apply for the preventive measures that diminish the attacks and damage to the wild fauna; however a greater number of them have grouped together to protest the presence of wolves in the only National Park where they still survive. Everything about them being a species in danger of extinction is just -- a bucolic-pastoral' myth. You only need to see year after year the forest fire statistics in Asturias or the continuing presence of poison in the mountains to prove that its contribution to conservation of nature is 'dangerous'. 

The problem has already passed beyond the point of where it is organised in a legal form or as an entertainment; this was the case of the last hunts that took place in the area between los Lagos and Covadonga: they went as far as publishing a Bando del Ayuntamiento of Cangas de On's calling for all hunters in the area that wanted to to participate in a draw to be involved in a hunt. The result? An avalanche of requests.  

* The famous 7 lobeznos[wolf cubs], a few days old, that the biologist of the National Park of the Picos def Europa, Borja Palacios Alberti, killed to by banging them against rocks, on his own initiative (without getting prior authority from the administration) in 2004. It was not a means of population control. In spite of that, the present Director of the National Park, Rodrigo Su'rez, tried to cover up the subject describing it as such. They are both still in their posts managing the National Park of the Picos de Europa. 

For the hunters it was as if an opportunity had been given to them to participate in an activity that had been forbidden for nearly a century and which they had always wanted. For a fact, there is an area very close to the road to los Lagos which has always given problems of furtive hunting because the perpetators can easily escape from the National Park guards.

All that remains is to clarify article 45 of the Constitution that says in the first section:  
--ALL have the right to enjoy a suitable environment for personal development, as well as the obligation TO CONSERVE IT "  
It is a pity that the Constitution and its laws have not come to the knowledge of more people in their 30 years of existence. How much longer do we have to wait?

If you wish to help us to stop uncontrolled hunting of this species and therefore avoid the destruction of one of the few natural paradises that we have left you can collaborate by sending an email to the following address:

*Source: Forum on Picos de Europa

Fdo: Berenguela de Arredondo Juez

Inma Castro Fern'ndez

Aurora Sanchez Arroyo

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