Alūksne faces a bird-and-beaver problem

The biggest treasure of the city of Alūksne is the lake and castle park, but the lake's abundance of fish is popular among cormorants, while the trees of the park are often visited by beavers. In order to prevent damage, the Alūksne Municipal government is assessing the possibility of allowing hunting in the city, Latvian Radio reported October 18.

The Lake and River Management Agency of the municipality “ALJA” is located in Alūksne Pilssala (Castle Island). A large bird can be seen diving into the lake every now and then through the window of the office of the agency's director, Māris Lietuvietis. It is a cormorant, which has been favoring Lake Alūksne's fish menu for the past few years.

Lietuvietis said the first cormorants arrived about eight years ago. They were 5-10 couples at first, but right now around 300 birds are arriving in Alūksne every spring.

The biggest problem is that these birds not only eat a significant amount of fish but injure even more fish with their sharp beaks. “His beak is an abnormally sharp weapon, he punches through the fish. It's like a hook,” said Lietuvietis.

One cormorant a day eats fish at its own weight, even slightly more, which is one and a half to two kilograms.

“The calculation is simple: if 300 birds a day each eat fish in their weight, they are already 300 kilograms [of fish]. If they even live here for 4-5 months, they are tons, of course,” Lietuvietis said.

Similarly, in Alūksne, like in many other cities, devastation comes from beavers. They had already done their work at the popular recreation spot “Crooked Birch.” The remaining two trees are now covered but the biggest pain is over the scenic Palace Park, where the beavers have also begun working.

“The devastation is already one that qualifies as severe damage,” said Druvis Tomsons, Alūksne Municipality Council vice chairman.

“Townspeople also often ask questions - if a person wants to cut off an old alder by their house, they have to coordinate it, but the beaver does it without permission and slams all the trees in a row,” Tomsons said.

Local amendments to the Hunting Law provide that if game animals endanger public order and safety or cause damage, hunting in urban territory is permitted in accordance with the procedures specified by the local government. But Tomsons points out that each place has its own specifics to consider.

“There's also a part of the army in the city, we also have to coordinate with them what they're saying about someone being in the park area here with a gun,” Tomsons said.

Permission to hunt in the city won't mean everyone who's a hunter and has hunting weapons can do it now.

“The law of hunting is at the heart of everything. It's not going to be like anyone now shooting through their third-foor window at crows rummaging the garbage can. Absolutely both the safe shots and the areas will be marked. Hunting moments will be announced. Everything will be organized with extra security because it's a city,” Tomsons said.

Amendments to the binding rules, which will lay down the procedures for the hunting of animals or birds that cause harm in the city, are expected to be adopted as early as this autumn.

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