Hunters unhappy with ban in Latvian-Belarusian border area

Due to risks related to migrants in the border region of Belarus, all forms of hunting have been restricted in the border area of Augšdaugava and Krāslava – two kilometers from the state border, Latvian Radio reported January 10.

Meanwhile, in the border area, which is 30 kilometers wide, hunters and hunting groups must coordinate hunting with the Daugavpils Administration of the State Border Guard.

The Border Guard explains that hunting restrictions are necessary to create security in the border area for hunters themselves and also to facilitate border guard functions by stopping migrants. Meanwhile, hunters whose hunting areas are thus reduced are confused about these restrictions during the particularly active hunting season and worried about the devastation caused by wildlife.

The Latvian-Belarusian border stretches 173 kilometers, a coveted target for illegal migration. Last autumn, as many as 100 people's attempts to enter Latvia on average per day were prevented, but in total, during the year border guards prevented nearly 14,000 attempts to cross the Latvian-Belarusian border illegally.

Concerning the pressure of illegal immigration in several administrative territories in the border area of Belarus, an increased regime of operation of the border security system was introduced, which also applied to hunters, said Vladimira Šersts, acting chief of the border control and immigration control service of the State Border Guard Daugavpils Administration.

“Hunter collectives need to know that the Daugavpils Administration prohibits any form of hunting in the border zone, that is 2 kilometers from the border zone of the state. This ban is related to security – both on our part and on the part of hunters,” Šersts emphasized.

Hunting restrictions are also in place across the border area.

“The border area is an area 30 kilometers from the state border, the Daugavpils Administration of the State Border Guard invites hunting collectives to inform us promptly about places, people, and the time when hunting will be organized,” S Šersts urged.

Hunters have been made aware of this and the fact that this regime has been extended until February 10. 

In both Daugavpils and Augšdaugava municipalities, hunter collective "Ūpis" led by Pāvels Šilvans operates. Šilvans is outraged by the ban on hunting in the border area.

“This is the insanity that is happening, our collective has the entire hunting forest array of wild boar and elk in the two-kilometer lane, both in Kaplava and Saliena. We rent this forest from the Latvian State Forests, we pay for it, we pay for licenses, we feed animals, but we are not allowed to hunt, and it is appalling,” Šilvans said.

The manager of the hunter collective “Ūpis” said that not only the hunters, but also the forest have losses.

“This has been happening for a number of years, at first the cause was Covid, then African swine fever, but since last winter and this year border guards have been preventing us from hunting. But for us, hunting season is so short - collective hunting is from October 1 to February 1, and we are closing it down. But forest owners complain that the wild beasts eat the young stands of spruce and pine trees, that there is great damage, and that the beasts should be shot. But what can we do if we are not let there? We think the restrictions will be temporary, let's tolerate, but no, they continue and we don't know what to do anymore,” Šilvans said.

Hunter also said there have been many times hunters reported migrants to the border force in forests and even detained them themselves. But now there are no migrants and hunting restrictions should be lifted, thinks Šilvans.

The fact that migrants have indeed not been seen for quite some time is also confirmed by border guards.

“The situation at the Latvian-Belarusian border is peaceful. We have not detected any attempted border crossings since December 23 last year. Consequently, it is peaceful for the time being,“ Vladimirs Šersts informed.

However, this does not reduce vigilance on the border, also in terms of hunting, he said. The rules will have to be endured until migration is no longer a threat.

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