Big game won't remain here for much longer

Bucharest - The government of Romania, one of the last European countries where big game remains plentiful, said on Monday that it would allow hunters to shoot 300 of its estimated 5 300 bears this year, to the dismay of local environmentalists.

The ministry of agriculture also announced a quota of 370 wolves out of a national population of between 2 000 and 3 500.

The brown bear has a price tag of €5 000 (about R35 000) for a foreign hunter, but a Romanian hunter pays only one tenth of the price.

"The hunting quotas have been fixed so as to protect the game," said the ministry, but the ecologist association, AVES, claimed that the number of game had been over-estimated, largely for financial reasons.

"A bear usually covers between 15 and 20 kilometres in a single night and could be counted up to three times by different forest wardens," AVES said in a statement.

This year's hunting quota also includes 4 800 wild boars, 6 000 foxes, 12 800 hares and 8 100 pheasants.

Hunting is a favourite pastime of Romania's political elite, including the Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who is the president of the hunters' association. - Sapa-AFP

Published on the Web by IOL on 2004-01-05 17:00:02

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