Is Norway breaking the Bern Convention?

Translation of BirdLife Norway’s article 20.1.17 by Ellen, for original text see birdlife.no. 

Last fall Norwegian authorities neglected to follow up and fix their own oversight on the self-defense paragraph in regards to predatory attacks in connection to the Diversity law. A weakened rule of law for the goshawk and other bird of prey is the result. BirdLife Norway means this is in violation with the Bern Convention that protects European species and their natural habitats.

In a verdict from 2014, the Supreme Court let an accused man from Lierne in Trøndelag walk free after the suspect had shot a protected goshawk even though other measures were possible. The farmer noticed that the goshawk was pecking on a chicken. He found his shotgun and killed the goshawk, without trying to scare it or in any other means of making it leave. The Supreme Court convicted the accused, who appealed the case. After several rounds in the Criminal Justice Court it ended in Supreme Court where it was concluded that the law did not provide basis for prosecution.

BirdLife Norway has an assessment that this creates uncertainty around the legal protection on birds of prey in general. Preventative measures and alternative actions must always be considered before reaching for the gun. When the Supreme Court means that the legislation did not demand this in this case, that is serious problem.

The goshawk is categorized as near threatened (NT) on the Norwegian Red List, and is included in the Bern Convention’s list II over strictly protected species. The species is also in the list II of the Bonn Convention, which protects migratory species.

Weaker protection for wild predators in the Norwegian law
All wild animals are protected in Norway, unless the law states anything else, for example through regulations, that explicitly allow for killing/euthanizing. In this case it is the Diversity law  (Naturvernsloven) § 17 that opens for shooting protected wildlife if it is in relation to acute situation, where a raptor or other predator attacks a person or a domestic animal, it is then allowed to act on the so called self-defense rule.

The Diversity law § 17 second part, 1 point (about people):

Wildlife can be killed/euthanized when it is mandatory for posing an actual and significant danger for doing harm to a person.

The Diversity law § 17 second part, 2 point (about domestic animals):

Owner, or another responsible person on behalf of the owner, may kill wildlife in direct attack with cattle, reindeer, pig, dog and poultry.

With ‘mandatory’ it means that one is obliged to do a proper attempt to scare away the predator, before killing can be considered. Good fences is also a central and known method of preventing damage on for example poultry, a praxis the Bern Convention recommends.

The term ‘deemed necessary’ is essential in the understanding of the law. Earlier, when one decided upon the self-defense in the wildlife law (viltloven), there was established a common rule for both people and domestic animals, where it was determined that a permit always needed to be necessary. This permit fell away when the decision was moved from the wildlife law to the diversity law. The term was only included in the first point, which concerns attacks on people. It is this change that the Supreme Court did not have the opportunity to judge the man (from Lierne) for shooting a goshawk.

The Ministry does not wish to change the law
Proposition 118 L was treated by the Parliament this fall (2016). BirdLife Norway/NOF had waited for such a treatment, that today’s law could be mended. The Ministry of Climate and Environment has been clear that § 17 in today’s Diversity law is a result of a inadvertence, an oversight.  That predators get weakened by the Diversity law was not intended, it was a mistake. In the constitutional letter dated to 27.11.2014 in the preparations of the elaboration of Prop. 118 L, the Department stated that the meaning was to continue the content of the wildlife law.  BirdLife Norway answered this hearing, and was supported by the Department that the law needed to be changed, so that the legislation would be updated after the intention.

However, the correction never made it to the proposal in the Parliament, where Norwegian laws are decided. The Department has therefore decided not to fix this mistake despite for their own recommendations. They write about this on page 7 in the propositions, where they write that the purpose is to see how the self-defense practice will evolve, and that there should not be done any changes at this time. BirdLife Norway means this is unacceptable.

Prosecutors in the grazing industry urges shooting referral to verdict
Prosecutors are well aware for the weakness in the legislation. In a letter to a newspaper in summer 2016 there was an urge by the sheep- and goat farmers of Fitjar to self-act against golden eagles, and . They are referring to the verdict by the Supreme Court, and claim that has given sheep owners an expanded approval to use the self-defense for when predators attack sheep or lambs. These sheep farmers in Hordaland (region on the Mid-West coast of Norway), have made a ‘flying restriction-zone for golden eagles’ that fly lower than 35 meter over ground level, and encourage shooting golden eagles without warning it, and if the eagle chases any lambs. It is unclear what the farmers at Fitjar mean about eagles chasing sheep, and if an eagle is below the 35 meter, if this automatic goes into action and definition. This example shows it is problematic to uphold today’s legislation. If one is in disagreement of national management regime, it is possible to use § 17 as an attempt to hide this behind a smokescreen for culling protected birds of prey. No cases where self-defense is claimed, and used, is the same. If the Fitjar sheep- and goat farmers interpretation of the legislation will be legit in a judiciary is more or less doubtful, despite the cited goshawk-verdict.

BirdLife Norway asks the Bern Convention to examine the issue of the Norwegian authority, as they mean today’s legislation is against the Conventions article no 9, that put claims that killing/culling can only happen if there is no other solution. It is very important to have a clear legislation on this area. The Ministry of Climate and Nature, Vidar Helgesen, said no to licensed hunting of two-thirds of the Norwegian wolf population this winter, because the Norwegian Law and the Bern Convention did not allow it, proves the importance of this. Norwegian birds of prey and predators have a right to good legal protection.

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Urban Nature Maps / Urbane naturkart

English marked in Italic

Kunne du tenke deg et kart hvor du kan finne ‘grønne områder’, og gjerne oppdage en variasjon av flora og fauna, i en storby? Ja, takk! I Rotterdam finnes det et såkalt Urban Nature Map, altså et urbant naturkart.

Would you like a map that could show you the ‘green areas’, and perhaps also have the opportunity to explore the variation of flora and fauna, in a city? Yes please! In Rotterdam there actually is an Urban Nature Map.

‘Jeg tenker at enhver by burde ha dette! Kanskje de allerede har det? Kan folk dele? #UrbanNatureMaps’. Skriver Chris på Twitter. Jo, jeg er enig, de burde det, dette er genialt. Kort tid etter blir hans tweet delt med mange, og entusiasmen sprer seg.

‘I’m thinking every city should have one! Maybe they do? Can folk share? #UrbanNatureMaps.’ – Chris Charles writes on Twitter. Yes, I agree with him, this is brilliant. Soon after, his tweet goes viral, and enthusiasm is spreading.

Photo curtesy by Chris Charles, who recently used this Urban Nature Map in Rotterdam.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris4nature
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Urban nature maps: Rotterdam and Helsinki

I storbyer har det florert et behov for å trekke inn mer natur i form av grønne lunger, enten det er parker, urbane takterrasser eller en type veksthus. Det er ikke noe nytt at det er parker og hager i byer, men det er et nytt fokus på dem, og kart som dette viser deres betydning. Parker og hager går langt tilbake i tid, og gjerne i forbindelse med at en park hørte til en større eiendom hvor det gjerne også foregikk jakt. Behovet i dag er utenom at de gir oss visuelle grønne områder, så gir de oss et bedre levemiljø; som å gå tur i parken, går tur med hunden, slappe av, bare det å kunne koble til naturen midt i en travel by og hverdag. Det er like viktig at barn får muligheten til å etablere et kjennskap til naturen om de i det hele tatt skal kunne utvikle et forhold om naturbevaring når de vokser opp.

In cities there is a growing desire to pull in more of nature in ways of so called ‘green lungs’ like establishing more parks, urban roof gardens or as vegetable growing- or types of green houses. It is not a new thing to have parks or gardens in a city, but there is a new focus on them, and maps like this support their value. Parks and gardens go way back into historical times, and often a park would be part of a large property where there even would be arranged hunts. Today the parks and gardens, apart from being just green areas, give us a better way of living, we take walks in the park, walk the dogs, relax, and can just connect a bit with nature in the middle of a city. For people who don’t travel out of the city to be in nature, these green areas in the urban lifestyle are of huge importance, and it is highly important for children to connect to nature, if they are to care about any aspects of wildlife as they grow up.

Et eksempel på omgjøring av noe til fordel for natur som i New York hvor en toglinjen som ble omgjort til en grønn trase, the High Line, på vestsiden av byen. I tillegg som å fungere som en avslappende park, får en også se byen fra noe annet en gatenivå. Langs toglinjen dukket det opp små området med aktivitetssoner, planteområdet og sitteplasser (se bilder under). En skal ikke undervurdere hvor mye slike områder har å si for oss, og for dyr, som for de miste av dem også, insekter.

An example on how an area has been redesigned in favor for incooperating nature in the city, and old train track on the West side of New York City was transformed into a park called the High Line. In addition of functioning as a park, it also brings you up from the level street ground, so you can see the city from another angle. Along the line there are areas of activities, lots of plants and sitting places (photos below). One should never underestimate how much such places mean for us, and animals, such as the tiniest ones as well, insects.

A selection of photos from exploring the High Line; staircases give easy access and occasional exits from the park. You can walk on old railtrails, and there was an activity zone with lego, I built a tiny nest box and added on a building. Photos by Lisa Søyland and Ellen Hagen.

Dyr har en egen evne til å tilpasse seg, slik som de urbane hønsehaukene som hekker i de grønne, skogkledde kirkegårder i Berlin. Dyr kan også hjelper oss med å sette pris på aspekter ved å bo i storbyer, de tilfører en verdi for oss, en mening. Ulempen blir noen ganger at de kan oppfattes som attraksjoner, og det er da viktig å huske å gi dem rom, ellers forsvinner de. Hekkekasser for fugler bør settes opp med omhu, uansett om det er for småfugl eller for rovfugl, for trives de, så kommer de tilbake. Du trenger bare å se ut vinduet fra et bygg i en by og undre deg over hvilket dyr som faktisk bor der. Tar du deg tid, så kan du kanskje oppdage dem, lykke til.

Animal have their own way of adapting, just as the urban goshawks of Berlin. They nest in the green, wood framed cemeteries in the city. Animals can help us appreciate aspects of livining in big cities, they give us a certain value, a meaning. However, sometimes such behavior might turn into an attraction, and this is when it is important to give animals a space, if not then they might relocate. Bird houses and nest boxes should always be set up in favor for the birds, regardless if they are songbirds or raptors, because if they like it there they will return. You only need to look out of a window from a city building, and wonder which animals live here. If you take time and make an effort, you might actually get to observe them, good luck.

Remains of an urban peregrines meal at Høghuset at Bryne in Norway, sometimes you need to remember to look up, and down, to find traces of wildilfe in the cities. Photo by Ellen Hagen.
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Live camera on Urban Peregrines in Norway

English below

En liten gladnyhet, nå kan du følge vandrefalkene på Bryne live da de har åpnet kameravisningen igjen for 2017. Vanderfalkene bruker Høyhuset som et jakttårn. Det ble tidligere hengt opp en hekkekasse, men da den hang feil (mot sør) så ville ikke falkene hekke, venter spent på om de får endret det i år for selve kassen er fin. Følg dem live på http://www.vandrefalkene.no eller på facebooksiden https://www.facebook.com/vandrefalkene

Har du spørsmål om hekkekasser for rovfugl, send meg gjerne en mail.

Some good news, you can now watch the peregrines at Bryne city as they have opened a live stream  camera for 2017. The peregrines use Høyhuset as a hunting tower. Earlier there was set up a nest box, but it was facing the wrong way (to the south) and the peregrines did not breed. Hoping they fix it before this season. Anyway, watch them live at http://www.vandrefalkene.no or check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/vandrefalkene  

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Urbant dyreliv

Hva er vel det da? Duer og måker, kråker og spurver, de har vel ‘alltid vært i byene’, har de ikke det? Noen dyrearter tilpasser seg et liv i nærheten av mennesker, fordi det gir avkastning med hensyn til mat å finne, og trygghet. Andre arter igjen, de trekker seg lenger og lenger vekk fra menneskelig utbygging og aktiviteter.

Hvilket dyr så du sist du var i byen? Var det måken, spurven eller duen? Ble du begeistret eller tenkte du kanskje ikke så mye over det? Noen av disse ‘by dyrene’ tilpasser seg så godt at de trives i store tall. Måkene finnes ikke bare langs kysten, de har trukket seg langt inn i landet, de tilpasser seg. De benytter seg av flate tak og mat fra byer og søppelsteder. Spurvene kom til Norge sammen med kornet og jordbruket for ca 5000 år siden. Kråkene har også valgt å leve et liv i nærheten av mennesker; det er finnes mange beinrester av kråkefugler fra tidlig middelalder, både i Norge (fra Trondheim) og andre gårdsplasser og slotts-plasser. Kråkene kom raskt til på krigsfeltet for å forsyne seg av de falne krigerne, og ofte har de fått et negativt stempel på seg. Men de tilpasser seg bare. Likevel, alt som kommer i store tall, det blir en konkurranse for oss mennesker, og vi ser på disse dyrene som ‘ei pest og ei plage’, ja de blir faktisk stemplet som skadedyr.

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Har vi likevel glemt å sette pris på det dyrelivet som velger å bo der vi er? Hvem mater vel ikke duene og endene av og til, og blir litt irritert over måkene som kommer? Jeg liker kråker veldig godt, og syns de er morsomme å observere i byene. De napper opp gårsdagens rester fra uteserveringen og spiser rubbel og bit (ikke alt er bra for dem heller, men de tåler mye). Noen som setter veldig pris på de urbane dyrene er fotografene. Å ta bilder av urbane dyr er veldig populært, både hos fotografer og blant de som bor der. En av mine favoritter er Sam Hobson fra England, han har også hjulpet meg med bilder til undervisningsmateriell for rovfugler.

Ordet urban kommer fra latinsk urbs refererer til by. Urbanitet viser til utviklingen av menneskelig aktivitet, og dette påvirker selvsagt dyrene. Ville dyr som lever i byer, er urbane dyr, det er alt fra småfugler til ekorn, rev og rotter, til duer, kråker måker og vandrefalker, hønsehauker og spurvehauker, for å nevne noen, og vil variere fra land til land selvsagt. De bor i byen, jakter i byen, og formerer seg i byen. Her finner de mat og vann, og de kan holde seg vekke fra andre farer som lusker (kråker er redde for hubroen), eller når det er dags for å senke noen bestandsnummer ved å utskytning, og det forekommer heller ikke i byer. For å få et lite inntrykk av kråkene er i Rogaland, sjekk kartet for hvordan de flyr ut over hele distriktet hver dag, for så å returnere på kvelden i byen rundt Mosvannet.

Så neste gang du ser en spurv, tenk så kult at de er her fordi de tilpasser seg, og at de kom til Norge for ca 5000 år siden. Det er en urbaniseringsfuglen sin det.

Ikke bare det, fugler er også det nærmeste slektningen til dinosaurer.

(Spurvebildet er fra desk7)

Følg eller del kråkebilder med #stavavangercrow #stavangerkråker