NGOs criticize Rīga hunting plans

Twelve non-governmental organizations have signed a open letter criticising the plans of Rīga City Council to introduce new rules on the hunting of animals on city territory.

Signatories believe that the draft regulations titled "On hunting in the territory of the city of Riga" are not of high quality and do not take into account the potential danger posed by hunting to people, pets and property, and ignores possible alternatives.

"The NGO invites, via expert consultation, evaluating the necessity of such binding regulations and, if they are necessary, to include in the binding regulations specific game animals, hunting implements, means, methods, techniques and safety conditions (including procedures for informing the population about for hunting) for specific areas, taking into account the risks posed," said a release signed by the 12 organizations, which include many animal welfare organizations as well as several concerned with landscape and environment.

The signatories are: Apvienība “Pilsēta cilvēkiem”; “Ķemeru nacionālā parka fonds”; “Dzīvnieku brīvība”; “Zaļā brīvība” (valdes priekšsēdētājs Jānis Brizga); Dzīvnieku aizsardzības biedrība “9Dzīvības”; Dzīvnieku Tiesību Aizsardzības biedrība “Animal Rights Association B&T”; “ŠRI GANEŠA”; ĶEPU SARGI; Palīdzēsim dzīvniekiem; “Puse Latvijas”; “Latvijas ainavas”; “Protests”.

The NGOs point out what they say are several gaps and inconsistencies in Rīga City Council's plans, including a chronic lack of hunting inspectors to enforce rules – according to the open letter there are only five such inspectors in the whole country.

"Of particular concern is the fact that hunting is planned to be allowed in almost the entire territory of Riga, with the exception of the center, including in densely populated areas, where educational institutions and recreation areas are also located," says the letter.

Rīga City Council has been seeking public consultation on plans to give itself "the right to issue regulations on hunting in the city in cases where game animals threaten public order and safety or cause damage. The territory of Riga includes areas and water bodies where game animals live, which cause damage to the environment, danger to residents and can negatively affect the business environment in the municipality."

According to the municipality, wild boar are an increasing menace, causing damage and spreading disease.

"The aim of the regulations is to ensure that game animals do not threaten public order and safety, reduce epizootic risks and prevent damage to property, the environment and drainage systems in the territory of Riga municipality," said the council.

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