GB No. 9, autumn 1992


The well being of the animals inhabiting our fields and forests is in great jeopardy. They have never been particularly well catered for by the officials from the Ministry of Environment or the State Forestry Enterprise, for that matter. Recently, even the Polish Senate does not seem to be too favourably disposed towards them, either. The proposed bill on game hunting, not unlike the erstwhile project penned by the Minister of Environment him-self, seems to be putting the wild animals in the "pest" cate-gory, thus openly inviting their extermination.

So far, they have been clearly classed as "state property"; presently their status is to be changed into "nobody's property" (res nullius). The state thus abrogates its legal duty to pro-tect them and, by the same token, every landowner is effectively granted a right to shoot any animal found trespassing on his property.

Not so long ago the private forest owners had been granted the right to logging on their property and it soon resulted in the visible depletion of the existing forests. Even the rela-tively young trees are being felled, apparently to meet the wes-tern demand for wooden noggin. And now the wild animals are to be classed as "the integral part of the property", although, quite obviously, they do keep on the move all the time and thus cannot possibly be described as "perma-nent inhabitants of a specific property".

Knowing human nature, one can entertain few doubts as to what is most likely to follow shortly (i.e. in winter, when a bale of hay can so easily lure the starving animals in). The project further envisages that the so called "stock-control shooting" will apply only to deer, elks, hinds etc., whilst the rest of the wild animals like boars, foxes, hares, badgers and ermines can be happily hunted down with no officially imposed limits whatsoever.

Therefore in accordance with the present project any keen foreign hunter (no quotas imposed) will thus be able to indulge in this blood sport to his heart's content, as long as he does it in the company of a Pole holding an official "hunter's license."

This particular right to hunt on one's own land and the licensing system have already left the western hunters with nothing much left to shoot at in their own land and therefore they are so keen to come over and do it here. The proposed bill would also grant the foreign hunters the right to lease a particular hunting area from the Polish Hunters Union. The regional administration would obviously lap it up as it gives them a god sent opportunity to make a fast buck, regardless of the consequences.

It would appear, that the consequences will not be slow to follow, whilst the projected profits (if any) would be, at best, of a rather transient character.

Although only an outline of the proposed bill has been presented here, it gives a fair idea of the kind of danger potentially facing our environment. Considering that the Management of the State Forestry Enterprise has been advocating the shooting of elks to zero stock and the "stock-control shooting" of deer, though in 1991 alone six times more of them were shot than in 1975 (54 thousand out a 100 thousand stock) and this quota is still to be increased, one can easily determine the main direction of the present policy. It can only be described as a gradual decimation of the game animals. The rationale most often put forward in this respect is the alleged damage to the forests done by those animals. But the forests are hardly protected either. Only recently has the "project for the re-development of national forestry" been announced. Worked out in conjunction with the "western experts" it envisages in the next five years the felling of all the oldest trees in the country's forests. (It has been dubbed a "forests rejuvenation project" - and very aptly, too).

Waldemar Bena

GB No. 9, autumn 1992 | Contents