Saeima lowers minimum hunting age to 16

Saeima in a final reading March 14 adopted legislative amendments lowering the minimum age for underage hunters who may use firearms during hunting to 16 years.

A proposal by Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV) that young hunters must have a hunter's license issued by the State Forest Service and a permit from the State Police, was approved by the committee.

Once the amendment comes into force, individuals who are at least 16 years old and are accompanied by their parents or guardians who have hunter's licenses, may shoot hunting guns under adults' supervision. The owner of the firearm will be responsible for the use of the gun.

Saeima member Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Greens and Farmers Union) previously said that the proposal and its possible consequences had not been discussed enough. Furthermore, the amendment goes against several other legal provisions and children's rights described in policy planning documents. The Interior Ministry, Ombudsman's Office, Health Ministry, various professionals have objected to the amendment, added Reizniece-Ozola.

The amendments are also necessary to transpose European Union directives, which though are not related to the minimum age limit for hunters.

Latvian hunters' associations, on the other hand, expressed support for the initiative and tried to dispel criticisms

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