In principle, hunting is acceptable in Natura 2000 (N2000) areas. For hunting grouse the following preconditions must be met.
Preconditions for hunting grouse
- Hunting should not significantly endanger the favourable conservation status of the species.
- Hunting grouse should only be allowed in stable and viable populations
- Hunting should be sustainable and controlled
- Hunting in N2000 areas must be considered at the landscape level. Hunting concepts for grouse, as well as criteria for sustainable hunting, should refer to an area large enough to support a viable population.
- Hunting should be stopped if there is a significant population decrease
- To ensure sustainable hunting, continuous monitoring is necessary. Indicators can be
- population size (apart from population cycles)
- reproductive rate
- distribution range
- Hunters’ data can provide valuable information for grouse monitoring. However, for determining hunting regulations, any availabe additional information about the status of grouse species should be included.
Benefits of hunting
In some situations, hunting can benefit the conservation of grouse habitats, as the possibility for hunting grouse may encourage the hunters to participate in habitat development
- When considering whether to prohibit hunting or not, the disadvantages of losing the hunters’ participation and support as a result of the prohibition should be taken into account
Hunting has a long tradition in most European countries. These traditions differ regarding the hunting practices, as well as the general attitude towards hunting.
- Local traditions should be respected and hunting regulations should be adapted according to the regional differences.
Hunting of predators and herbivores
Habitat management can include the management of predators or herbivores. Especially in fragmented cultural landscapes an increased density of predators can influence grouse populations negatively.
- Minimise practices that generally support predators
- Predator control can be applied as a short-term measure to stabilise grouse populations. This does not apply to endangered predator species (e.g. lynx, golden eagle etc.)
- Habitat management may also involve herbivore management to avoid overgrazing by herbivores.
- Hunting tourism is a source of income, however, there should not be one-sided management, which focuses on one (huntable) species at the cost of others (not huntable).
Hunting can have negative impacts on grouse. It can lead to disturbances and may influence population dynamics. Some hunting practices can also indirectly influence grouse populations negatively: e.g hunting on leks too early (before copulating is finished) may have an impact on the population’s reproductive success. Shooting the dominant cock at a lek with only few cocks may influence population genetics.
- Disturbance by hunting should be minimised.
- Hunting practices that have a significant impact on population dynamics, population genetics or reproductive success should be avoided
- Hunting concepts should be included into the zoning concept
Differences within Europe
There are big difference throughout Europe regarding hunting law and hunting practice. These differenceshave to be considered when applying the guidelines to the different European regions.
In the following, the differences of selected aspects of hunting are estimated and illustrated for the different regions: