Humane Society International / Europe


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BRUSSELS—Signed, sealed, and delivered! The “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing” European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has smashed the requirement of gathering 1 million validated signatures, reaching over 1.2 million statements of support from European citizens.

The European Commission must now meet with campaigners and address citizens’ concerns. As over 10 million animals suffer in experiments in the EU every year and new non-animal technologies are being developed faster than ever before, the time for change is now.

“The days of forcing cosmetics ingredients down the throats of defenceless animals, intentionally infecting them with debilitating diseases, or drilling holes into their skulls must end—a radical rethink at the EU level is needed to support the transition,” says Sabrina Engel, chair of the ECI’s organising committee, PETA Germany.

“This European Citizens’ Initiative powerfully backs up the demand of the European Parliament to phase out animal testing for good. With the voice of the citizens added to the chorus, the Commission cannot ignore the loud calls to accelerate the transition to non-animal science,” says Tilly Metz, MEP, Greens–European Free Alliance.

“With the threat that the chemicals strategy poses to animals in laboratories, this ECI could not be timelier. From today, no additional animal tests should be requested to fill information gaps about chemicals. We need to move to safer and more humane safety assessments of chemicals,” says Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP, European People’s Party.

“The message from citizens has never been clearer or more aligned with the voices of scientists, industry, NGOs and politicians. Everyone understands that a plan to phase out animal experiments is a win-win situation for humans, other animals, and the environment. Now, the Commission should listen to citizens and finally make it happen,” says Anja Hazekamp, MEP, the Left.

“European citizens have been asking for cruelty-free cosmetics for a long time. This European citizens’ initiative is another reminder to the Commission that EU citizens will not stand by while loopholes in legislation are not closed to end all animal tests on cosmetics,” says Niels Fuglsang, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The ECI’s three critical asks call for robust implementation of the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics ingredients, a full transition to non-animal methods for chemical safety tests and committing to a plan to phase out all experiments on animals.

The ECI was launched in August 2021 by Cruelty Free Europe, Eurogroup for Animals, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Humane Society International/Europe, and PETA, with the support of global beauty and personal-care companies The Body Shop and Dove. It has since been actively promoted by companies such as Lush and a coalition of groups and campaigners from every corner of Europe. Hundreds of celebrities also supported the campaign, including Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Finnish heavy metal band Lordi, Italian singer Red Canzian, French journalist Hugo Clément and actor Evanna Lynch.

No other ECI has ever received this level of support across so many different countries. To be successful, an ECI has to collect at least 1 million validated signatures and has to meet a minimum target across at least seven different EU countries. This ECI passed the minimum target in 22 different countries, demonstrating pan-European support for ending animal testing.

Note to Editors:

  • The Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has brought together a network of NGOs and multinational companies across Europe. This is the first time in history that this number of European organisations has come together to help animals in laboratories.
  • Following submission and internal checks by the Commission, the number of validated signatures per country will be updated and shown here.
  • After receiving the validated signatures, Commission representatives will meet with ECI organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised in their initiative. The initiative will also receive a public hearing in the European Parliament before the Commission formally responds.
  • For more information on European Citizens’ Initiatives, see the ECI Factsheet on the European Parliament website.

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Over 80 exhibitors to sell trophy hunting trips to kill precious wildlife at Jagd & Hund

Humane Society International / Europe


Jagd & Hund trophy hunting convention in Dortmund Germany January 2020, HSI.

BRUSSELS—From 24 to 29 January, Europe’s largest hunting fair will take place in Dortmund, Germany. Over 80 national and international exhibitors from Canada, Argentina, Namibia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Poland and others, will attend Jagd & Hund 2023, offering trophy hunting trips, that cost between a few hundred and tens of thousands of euros, around the world to kill elephants, big cats, rhinos, polar bears and numerous other iconic species. In a joint letter with 30 organizations, Humane Society International/Europe called on Mayor Thomas Westphal and the Dortmund City Council to stop the selling of trophy hunting trips in the Westfalenhallen, the location for the fair.  

For years, Humane Society International has been raising the alarm over the impacts that hunting fairs offering trophy hunts like Jagd & Hund have on wildlife product demand, animal welfare and biological diversity. Between 2014 and 2020, trophies of 5,409 animals of internationally protected species were imported into Germany, including 194 leopards, 208 brown bears, 166 hippos 229 elephants, 138 lions, nine polar bears and two black rhinos. Many of these animals were killed because of the hunts sold at hunting fairs such as the Jagd & Hund. It is time for industry and governments—from city councils up through national and international offices—to end their support of trophy hunting. 

Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, country director of HSI/Europe in Germany, says: “It is not acceptable that in 2023 trophy hunting outfitters are still legally selling trips to shoot protected species for fun and games at a fair in Germany. For years we have been urging the responsible authorities in Dortmund to exclude these offers – but they keep silent and in doing so, support this gruesome industry that adds an additional danger to the survival of species that are already struggling to survive. It is long overdue that a stand is taken against trophy hunting of imperiled species.”  

Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN peace ambassador, is also appealing to those responsible: “The fact that hunting trophies of rare and endangered species are still legal is absolutely shocking! Please stop the sale of organized trophy hunting trips in the context of the ‘Jagd & Hund’ fair in Dortmund. Support thereby the animal and species protection!”  

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa—a coalition of non-governmental organizations in South Africa, which is a significant range state for many hunted species—also spoke out against the hunting fair and wrote an open letter to the Mayor of Dortmund. The letter was signed by more than 90 supportive organisations mainly from South Africa, including members of forum and of the Pro Elephant Network and was endorsed by world renowned wildlife conservationists, wildlife veterinarians, international dignitaries, politicians and environmental lawyers.  

Trophy hunting is a form of entertainment rooted in wealth and pageantry that results in both severe cases of animal harm and far reaching damaging biological and ecological impacts. Yet, more than 120,000 animals are killed in Africa each year by big game hunters. The EU is the second largest importer of hunting trophies from internationally protected species, behind the United States.  Germany is by far the greatest importer within the EU.  

HSI/Europe is particularly concerned about the trophy hunting industry’s promotion of inhumane killing methods advertised at the Jagd & Hund fair and has already identified multiple travel offers for hunts being sold at the fair that promote hunting methods banned in Germany because of their inhumane nature, such as bow hunting. It also appears that many vendors are already in violation of exhibition regulations for the fair which clearly state that the marketing of “shooting opportunities” is forbidden for bred animals as well as for animals who are kept in closed areas—called canned or captive hunting. However,  vendors were identified that advertise canned hunting trips for sale  ahead of the fair. 

Trophy hunting undermines international efforts to protect imperiled species, drives global demand for animal parts and products, and calls into question ethics around sport hunting as a form of sustainable use, as highlighted in a letter sent to the German Government by the IUCN Ethics Specialist Group calling for an end to German imports of hunting trophies from regulated species. In the 2020 election campaign, Mayor Westphal promised, if he took office, to set up an ethics committee to objectively examine the issue of trophy hunting and the corresponding marketing at the fair. To date, this ethics commission has not been appointed.  

Trophy hunts allowed at fair despite overwhelming public opposition:

Despite overwhelming public opposition to trophy hunting—including from the majority of Germans—Dortmund’s government and exhibition centers have continued to facilitate the slaughter of thousands of animals by allowing these fairs to continue year after year.  Opinion polls show that the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports. In South Africa, one of the most popular destinations for German hunting tourists, 68% of the respondents across all social backgrounds reject trophy hunting.  

Many governments and industry leaders are already taking action to end their involvement in the trophy hunting industry. Some of the world’s largest travel providers, including Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Expedia Group, called on the South African government to end trophy hunting and focus on a wildlife-friendly future. There are also more than 170 NGOs from around the world calling for an end to trophy hunting, and the European Parliament recently positioned itself in favor of an EU-wide ban on the import of hunting trophies. The Netherlands, Finland and France already ban the import of hunting trophies of certain species. The UK, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Poland are also discussing this. In addition, Germany withdrew from the International Hunting Council CIC at the turn of the year. The Westfallenhallen should take note that in Italy, the IEG Italian Exhibition Group SpA recently cancelled their country’s largest hunting fair, highlighting its conflict with the company’s ecological values. 

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Media contact: Adeline Fischer, senior communications manager for HSI/Europe: afischer@hsi.org; +49 17631063219

 

Humane Society International / Europe


Kateryna Kukota

BUCHAREST, Romania—The Romanian Senate has voted in favour of a draft bill to ban chinchilla and mink fur farming, following an investigation by Humane Society International/Europe that exposed shocking suffering on the country’s fur farms.

Andreea Roseti, Romania country director for HSI/Europe, welcomed the vote, saying: “The broad cross-party support for this bill in the Senate strongly signals the willingness of the Romanian Parliament to put an end to the cruel practice of breeding and killing animals for fur.

HSI/Europe welcomes the quick legislative path of this bill, and hopes that when it comes to the Chamber of Deputies in the next few months, the decision-making chamber will act decisively so that Romania can become the 20th European country to ban fur farming. The European continent can be considered a trailblazer in ending the suffering of animals for fur fashion, a practice that is being rejected by consumers, designers, retailers and policymakers across the world.”

The bill was initiated in October this year, after which it was presented in the Standing Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies on 7 Nov. and submitted and recorded in the Senate on the same day.

Chinchillas and minks are the only species of fur-bearing animals who are intensively bred on fur factory farms in Romania. If successful, the ban would therefore mark the end of fur farming in the country. In September this year, HSI/Europe revealed the results of its investigation at several of Romania’s chinchilla fur farms, documenting serious animal welfare concerns, including animals confined in small, wire-mesh cages, with females forced into a cycle of almost perpetual breeding, with total disregard for the natural behaviour of the species.

The vote in Romania comes while there is also growing support across Europe for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and imports. The “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative, launched in May and supported by more than 70 organisations, has already collected more than 1.1 million signatures of EU citizens.

ENDS

Media Contact:

  • Romania: Andreea Roseti, country director HSI/Europe in Romania: aroseti@hsi.org ; 0741-188-934
  • United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

 

Minister Francesco Lollobrigida urged to resolve the fate of thousands of minks left in legal limbo

Humane Society International / Europe


Kristo Murrimaa, Oikeutta Elaimille

GALEATA, Italy—The World Organisation for Animal Health has announced Italy’s third outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 on a mink fur farm, located in the municipality of Galeata (FC). The farm has been closed since Italy’s national fur farming ban came into force on 1 January this year, with 1,523 minks remaining caged on the premises.

Italy’s permanent fur farming ban was approved in December 2021 as an amendment to the Budget Law 2022, and according to Italian production data, it prevented the exploitation of at least 60,000 mink per year. A ministerial decree that has been due to be issued since 31 January, should have seen the remaining closed fur farms cleared of mink, including rehoming as many animals as possible in suitable sanctuaries. However, the decree titled “Criteria and procedures for the payment of compensation to the owners of mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and any other kind of animal breeding farms for the purpose of obtaining fur, as well as the discipline of transfers and possession of these animals” has not yet been issued despite being created by the Minister of Agriculture and in agreement with the Ministers of Health and Ecological Transition. Animal protection groups Essere Animali, Humane Society international/Europe and LAV appeal to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety Francesco Lollobrigida. Fur farming and trade throughout the European Union must be banned, a claim supported by the European Citizens’ Initiative #FurFreeEurope.UPDATE Dec. 7, 2022: The European Commission confirmed that the remaining 1,522 mink on the farm were “culled and destroyed”.

“Since January, we have been waiting for the inter-ministerial decree to start emptying the last five fur farms where more than 5,000 minksare still housed and crammed into tiny cages and now risk being killed. It is clear that the inaction of the competent ministries is continuing to pose a risk to public health and continues to ignore the most basic principles of animal welfare. We ask the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, to intervene urgently to implement the provisions of the 2022 Budget Law and thus allow the transfer of at least some of the mink still locked up in the cages of intensive fur farms,” state Essere Animali, Humane Society international/Europe and LAV.

In Italy, two outbreaks of coronavirus have already occurred in mink farms: the first in August 2020 in Capralba (Cremona) and the second in January 2021 in Villa del Conte (Padua). In November this year, as part of the compulsory diagnostic screening aimed at intercepting the possible introduction of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in mink farms as ordered by former Health Minister Roberto Speranza in December 2020, two minks were found to be positive for coronavirus infection in a third farm, in Galeata (FC). The screening consisted of 60 swabs every 15 days on each farm. On 24 November, the World Organisation for Animal Health reported that the animals were swabbed (real-time PCR) for clinical signs compatible with infection. Although one mink is reported to have died, it is not clear whether the remaining animals on the farm have been culled or whether more have since died from the infection.

The farm in question is located in the municipality of Galeata (FC) and, together with the other farms in Ravenna—fraction of San Marco (640 mink), Capergnanica (Cremona, 1,180 mink), Calvagese della Rivera (Brescia, 1,800 mink), and Castel di Sangro (L’Aquila, 18 mink) —it is one of the last facilities in Italy where thousands of breeding mink are still locked up in cages.

These animals would ordinarily have been used to start a new production cycle in 2021. However, the temporary fur farming ban ordered by the then Minister of Health as an anti-Covid measure in recognition of fur farms as potential reservoirs of the coronavirus, and the subsequent permanent ban on farming animals for fur has left the animals in a sort of limbo for more than 10 months. They could not be killed for commercial fur trade purposes nor for public health needs in the absence of a confirmed coronavirus infection, but could not be released into the wild, since they are non-native predators and potential reservoirs of the pandemic virus.

According to the provisions of the law, the Minister of Agriculture should have regulated by decree the system of compensation for mink farmers and the possible transfer of animals to facilities managed directly or in collaboration with animal welfare associations. If the decree had been adopted in time on 31 January, at least some of the mink present on the mink farms that were being decommissioned would probably have been able to be relocated to other facilities such as sanctuaries. This would have helped reduce the population density and, consequently, the concentration of animals particularly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.

This grave delay in managing over 5,000 minks remaining on now closed fur farms, is a significant animal welfare problem. These minks have been confined in the same cages of just a few square centimetres for at least two years but possibly as much as three to four years, because they qualify as “breeding” animals. In addition, it also puts public health at risk. The human-mink-human spillover chain has been well documented since the first cases were reported in the Netherlands in May 2020.

Essere Animali, Humane Society international/Europe and LAV conclude: “To avoid the risk of new coronavirus outbreaks on European mink farms and to spare the lives of millions of animals exploited solely for the value of their fur, we urge those who have not yet done so to sign the European Citizens’ Initiative petition ‘Fur Free Europe,’ which calls on the European Commission to ban fur farming and trade EU-wide. By May 2023 we have to reach one million signatures throughout the EU. To date, more than 600,000 EU citizens have already given their consent.”

ENDS

Facts on coronavirus outbreaks in Italian mink farms:

  • The first outbreak occurred at Capralba (Cremona).With more than 26,000 mink, the Capralba farm was the largest mink farm in Italy. In August 2020, a mink worker tested positive for coronavirus. Diagnostic tests followed on the animals (but not a diagnostic screening in all the farms which was the most reasonable option) revealing a number of animals testing positive for coronavirus. All mink were then slaughtered in December 2020, after further confirmation of infection with serological tests.
  • The second outbreak occurred at Villa del Conte (Padua). In the absence of compulsory screening (despite the outbreak detected in August in Capralba) all Italian mink farms were able to complete their production cycle and commercialize the minks’ fur. In 2020, Villa del Conte breeding was also able to obtain fur from over 10,000 minks present at the time and put them on the commercial circuit. Only in January 2021, with the start of compulsory screening, did it become apparent that those furs had been obtained from coronavirus-positive animals and were potentially a further vector for the spread of the virus. The approximately 3,000 “breeding” minks who remained on the farm after 2021 and tested positive, including in serological tests, were slaughtered on Dec. 14, 2021.
  • The third outbreak occurred at Galeata (FC). The outbreak was suspected on Nov. 9, 2022, with tests conducted on Nov. 14, 2022. The tests identified two coronavirus cases. The European Commission confirmed that the remaining 1,522 mink on the farm were “culled and destroyed”.
  • Further mink mismanagement occurred at Castel di Sangro (AQ) in August 2021, with the death of mink due to food poisoning. Exactly 1,035 minks died a sudden and extremely painful death due to food poisoning. According to investigations conducted by the health authorities, the animals were fed damaged or contaminated chicken meat. Less than 20 minks remained on the farm.

Media contact: Martina Pluda, HSI in Italy’s country director: mpluda@hsi.org; 3714120885

Updated on Dec. 13, 2022

HSI/Europe delivers 48,226 signatures calling for EU action against hunting trophy imports

Humane Society International / Europe


Hélène Terlinden, BOLDT

BRUSSELS—Yesterday, Humane Society International/Europe handed a petition signed by nearly 50,000 citizens from all over the world to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, urging the EU to take action against the trade in hunting trophies. The petition offers concrete interim policy recommendations to strengthen existing EU rules regarding the import and export of hunting trophies.

Iconic species like lions, rhinos and elephants are killed for their parts and shipped to and from the EU, earning the EU the sad title of the second-largest importer of animal trophies in the world. It makes the European Parliament well placed to address the repeated failure of the EU to properly implement existing regulatory protections.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said:

“We greatly appreciated the chance to be able to use our speaking time in the Committee on Petitions to counter the European Commission’s contentious and hackneyed claims—in response to our petition—that ‘well-regulated’ trophy hunting has benefits for both wildlife conservation and the livelihoods of local communities. It is unfortunate that they have swallowed the Kool-Aid predictably served up by apologists for trophy hunting, rather than evaluating the mounting evidence that killing threatened and endangered species for sport is harmful to species’ conservation and can actually contribute to increasing wealth inequalities, rather than benefiting all members of local communities. We are disappointed that even the recently adopted revised EU Action Plan on Wildlife Trafficking also listed ‘well-managed trophy hunting’ as a form of sustainable form of income. We strongly contest this characterisation.”

While critical of this attitude, HSI/Europe still welcomes the recent commitment in the revised EU Action Plan on Wildlife Trafficking to apply greater scrutiny to imports of hunting trophies and be more transparent about decision-making concerning country-species combinations. The action plan also states that the Commission will consider extending the EU legal requirement for hunting trophies to be accompanied by import permits for more species. Such import permits provide the EU with important oversight over the imports’ compliance with regional and international laws that aim to protect species from overexploitation through trade. At present, the EU requirement for an import permit for hunting trophies only applies to species in Annex A of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation and six additional species listed in Annex B: the African elephant, common hippopotamus, African lion, southern white rhinoceros, polar bear and Argali sheep.

While HSI/Europe welcomes this change as an interim step, the ultimate goal for the EU is to work quickly to restrict all hunting trophy imports of regulated species. It is a vital step to curb the demand for imperilled species’ parts and products, as well as for protecting animals like giraffes, polar bears and cougars from the compounding, extensive consequences of this cruel practice.

Last month, in its Resolution on the EU’s strategic objectives for the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species COP19, the European Parliament urged the Commission and the Member States to “take immediate effective action in the framework of its commitments outlined in the EU biodiversity strategy to ban the import of hunting trophies derived from CITES-listed species.”

HSI/Europe’s petition to the European Parliament—as well as recent public opinion polls and our various submissions to Commission stakeholder consultations—highlights not only the urgent welfare, conservation and biological needs for these additional trade protections, but also the general public’s desire for the EU government to take immediate action to ban hunting trophy imports in line with a precautionary approach to species protection.

FACTS

  • Petition No 0976/2021 on the necessity for EU action with regard to trophy hunting was submitted to the European Parliament in September 2021.
  • The EU is the second-largest importer of animal trophies in the world, according to HSI/Europe’s report Trophy Hunting by the Numbers. Between 2016 and 2018, the EU was the largest importer of lion trophies globally. Trophies from at least 15,000 internationally protected mammals from 73 CITES-listed species were legally imported to the EU between 2014 and 2018, with a nearly 40% increase in trophy imports to the EU during this period.
  • Legally obtained hunting trophies of the species listed under Annex A and six species under Annex B of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation can only be imported into the EU after a Member State has issued an import permit and verified that such imports have been legally acquired and will not be detrimental to the conservation of the species. There is no transparent process for the issuance of such permits and non-detriment findings. Hunting trophies of all other species are exempted from this rule.
  • As outlined in a recent report calling for a revision of the trophy hunting regime in the European Union, there is a long history of a lack of proper regulation and oversight when it comes to trade in hunting trophies. Even where trophy hunting is legal and follows management guidelines, there is evidence of population declines, indirect negative effects on populations, biologically unsustainable quotas, offtake of restricted individuals like breeding females and cubs, poor population estimates and monitoring, quotas assigned at the incorrect spatial scale, significant animal welfare concerns and a lack of transparency in data and policy and management decisions. A comprehensive ban on the import of hunting trophies of regulated species is a necessary precautionary approach to protect imperilled species.
  • Various studies have found that trophy hunting does not provide meaningful employment opportunities or revenues for the majority of community members and can instead contribute to wealth inequalities. Community-based natural resource management approaches should not make the poor poorer and the rich richer and should instead focus on more ethical, sustainable and lucrative industry alternatives to trophy hunting.

ENDS

Media contact: Adeline Fischer, communications senior manager: afischer@hsi.org ; +49 17631063219

HSI/Europe expresses concern about tactics to try to downgrade protections for large carnivores

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS—Following a concerted campaign by lobby interests seeking to decrease EU legal protections for large carnivores, the European Parliament has adopted a Resolution on the issue of the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe at its Plenary session in Strasbourg, proposing significant downgrade to the protection of the latter.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says.

“It is deeply depressing that the European Parliament has bowed to the pressure of the animal agriculture and hunting lobby and adopted a Resolution that calls for legal protections for large carnivores, like wolves and bears, to be downgraded. The slight recovery of large carnivore populations does not provide sufficient reason to downgrade legal protections for these species, especially when the EU Habitats Directive includes derogations for management control of species under exceptional circumstances.”

For many months a handful of MEPs, promoting agricultural and hunting interests, have been pushing to get wolves on the political agenda, leading to an internecine struggle between Parliamentary committees on the issue of competence. It has been a fight between those more concerned with protecting human economic interests and those who recognise the importance of preserving native biodiversity. MEPs from groups supporting a balanced joint Motion for a Resolution broke ranks and voted to weaken the text.

HSI/Europe points out that the European Commission has remained steadfast in its position with regard to upholding legal protections for large carnivores and not re-opening the EU Habitats Directive’s Annexes to allow more wolves and bears to be killed. Together with other animal and environmental protection NGOs, HSI/Europe has opposed a Parliamentary Resolution on the issue. Hundreds of wolves are already killed each year in the EU, using the existing exemptions in the Habitats Directive, indicating that there is already considerable flexibility in the implementation of EU legislation. The European Commission has been unequivocal in its position that the EU Habitats Directive is fit for purpose.

Swabe continues:

“The whole Resolution can be regarded as simply an attempt to mollify lobby interest and be seen to do something about wolves. We believe that rather than continually trying to milk this ram, MEPs would be better off accepting that people must learn to coexist with wolves and other large carnivores. They should be rigorously pursuing mitigation strategies to achieve greater coexistence with these animals, who play a vital role in increasing biodiversity, and implementing measures to promptly compensate farmers for their losses when predator attacks sadly do occur. Vilifying wolves and other large carnivores is not helpful; finding better ways to co-exist with them more peaceably is.”

While the current Commission under leadership of Ursula von der Leyen has been consistent in maintaining protections for large carnivores, a new Commission will be installed at the end of 2024. The question is whether a new leadership will maintain the same strong position on protecting biodiversity and the protection of native species, or bow to the pressure of the agricultural lobby.

Facts

  • Wolves are listed in the Annexes of the EU Habitats Directive as either a strictly protected or protected species, depending on the population in question. Hunting permits to kill them can only be granted under exceptional circumstances.
  • The Habitats Directive authorises Member States may use derogations to allow management control provided there is “no satisfactory alternative and the derogation is not harmful to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned.” These exceptions are meant to stop “serious damage” to livestock and crops, protect the public’s health and safety or for research and education.
  • The Commission recently published a detailed Guidance Document to provide clarification to Member States on how this derogation can be applied.
  • The EU’s LIFE programme has already funded numerous projects to help effectively mitigate human-large carnivore conflicts.
  • State Aid provisions compensate farmers with 100% financial remuneration for losses suffered and costs incurred by predator attacks, but also offer 100% reimbursement for the mitigation measures implemented. The primary issue is that farmers are not always aware of their entitlement to such funds, and Member States are slow in compensating them for their losses.

ENDS

Media contact: Yavor Gechev, Humane Society International/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org; +359889468098

HSl/Europe welcomes the European Commission’s adoption of the revised EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS— The European Commission today adopted the revised EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, a few days before the 19th Conference of the Parties for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) kicks off in Panama. The new Action Plan recognises the role played by the EU in wildlife trafficking as an important destination market and a transit hub for the unsustainable legal and illegal wildlife trade; the latter is believed to have generated at least EUR 4.7 million in 2019.

The revised EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking includes many laudable commitments to prevent the scourge of wildlife trafficking and address its root causes, as well as to bolster the EU’s legal and policy framework, improve enforcement and strengthen global partnerships to combat the the illegal trade in source, consumer and transit countries. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report notably includes a consideration of the risk of zoonotic disease transmission via the wildlife trade and the need to follow a “One Health” approach in its regulation.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, says:

“It is fantastic to see that the European Commission is taking concrete policy action to address civil society’s concerns about the EU’s failures to comprehensively tackle both the legal and illegal trade in wildlife. We are delighted that the Action Plan includes a commitment to looking at the development of new tools to tackle the issue of ‘stolen wildlife.’ For many years, we have been calling on the Commission to close the loopholes in the existing legislation by criminalising the trade in illegally sourced wildlife for the exotic pet trade, which is decimating imperiled species, particularly reptiles and amphibians, such as glass frogs, in other parts of the globe.”

She adds: “We also welcome that the Commission intends to apply greater scrutiny to imports of hunting trophies and be more transparent about decision-making concerning country-species combinations for trophy imports. While a comprehensive ban on trophy hunting imports would certainly have been preferable, the very least that the EU can do is to ensure that import permits are required for all trophies from threatened and endangered species.”

The Commission is also seeking to strengthen the engagement of local communities in the management and conservation of wildlife to support the development of sustainable livelihoods in source countries. Regrettably, it misguidedly lists “well-managed trophy hunting” as a form of sustainable income.

Dr. Swabe clarifies: “The claim that trophy hunting is well-managed is highly contentious. There is a long history of a lack of proper regulation of oversight when it comes to trophy hunting. Even where trophy hunting is legal and follows management guidelines, there is evidence of population declines, indirect negative effects on populations, biologically unsustainable quotas, offtake of restricted individuals like breeding females and cubs, poor population estimates and monitoring, quotas assigned at the incorrect spatial scale, and a lack of transparency. The regulations are insufficient in ensuring populations are not negatively impacted. Studies also find that trophy hunting does not provide meaningful employment opportunities or revenues for the majority of community members, and can instead contribute to wealth inequalities. Community-based natural resource management approaches should not make the poor poorer and the rich richer.”

The EU is well-placed to demonstrate global leadership in the fight against wildlife trafficking by ensuring strict regulation of wildlife trade and their effective enforcement. The question is whether the EU will live up to this leadership role in the upcoming CITES meeting (which begins on November 15), given its failure thus far to support the hippo, glass frogs and other proposals.

FACTS:

  • HSI/Europe’s feedback on the roadmap for the revision of the action plan, which outlines HSI/Europe’s position on the import of hunting trophies and the need to close the loopholes in the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, can be found here.
  • The EU is the second-largest importer of animal trophies in the world, according to HSI/Europe’s report. Since 2016, the EU is the largest importer of lion trophies globally. Trophies from at least 15,000 internationally protected mammals from 73 CITES-listed species have been legally imported to the EU during the period 2014-2018 and there has been an increase of nearly 40% of trophy imports during this period.
  • At present, the EU legal requirement for hunting trophies to be accompanied by import permits relates only to species in Annex A of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation and six additional species listed in Annex B, namely the African elephant, common hippopotamus, African lion, southern white rhinoceros, polar bear and Argali sheep.
  • Legally obtained hunting trophies of the species covered by these rules can only be imported into the EU after a Member State has issued an import permit and verified that such imports have been legally acquired and will not be detrimental to the conservation of the species. There is no transparent process for the issuance of such permits and non-detriment findings. Hunting trophies of all other species are exempted from this rule.
  • With respect to the need to close the loopholes in the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, the CITES does not cover all illegal wildlife trade. Many threatened species are protected from exploitation in their home countries but are not protected from being traded, either through domestic legislation or by CITES, and such domestic protections are often poorly enforced. In addition, many demand-focused countries have no protections for non-native species. As a result, wildlife traffickers are able to easily smuggle these animals into legal (or illegal) international trade flows, and once out of their countries of origin, little can be done to stop the trade in these species.
  • Many demand-focused countries have no protections for non-native species. As a result, wildlife traffickers can easily smuggle these animals into legal—or illegal—international trade flows, and once out of their countries of origin, little can be done to stop the trade in these species. HSI/Europe is urging the EU to adopt supplementary legislation prohibiting the importation, transshipment, purchase and sale of wildlife taken illegally in the country of origin.

ENDS

Media contact: Yavor Gechev, Humane Society International/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org; +359889468098

Humane Society International / Europe


Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: The European Union’s role in global trophy hunting Import and Export of CITES listed species between 2014 and 2018
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Trophy-hunting-numbers-eu-report.pdf

Summary from Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Summary_EU-Trophy-Hunting-by-Numbers-report-2.pdf

Overview translations Trophy Hunting by Numbers report
https://www.hsi.org/news-media/report-trophy-hunting-numbers-eu/

Factsheets about commonly hunted species (African leopard, African lion, Black rhino, European brown bear, European grey wolf, Giraffe
https://www.hsi.org/news-media/species-factsheets/

Poll in 2021 in five European countries (France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain)
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/eu-trophy-hunting-poll.pdf

Joint position paper 160+NGOs
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Joint-NGO-position-on-trophy-hunting_final-Logos.pdf

For a revision of the trophy hunting regime in the European Union (Coalition report)
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/trophy-hunting-revision-report.pdf

Summary from Coalition report
https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/trophy-hunting-revision-report-summary.pdf

Bill to ban the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies of animals belonging to species at risk resubmitted, inspired by HSI/Europe campaign

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS —The issue of trophy hunting is back on the Italian political agenda with the new presentation by Hon. Michela Vittoria Brambilla of a bill aimed at banning the import, export and re-export, to and from Italy, of hunting trophies obtained from animals who are protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

A bill on the same issue was presented in 2021 by members of the Five Star Movement, with support from Humane Society International/Europe who is currently leading an EU-wide initiative to ban certain hunting trophy imports and exports to and from Europe. The initiative of Hon. Brambilla—the first to pick up the baton in this struggle—is back on the agenda of this new legislature, despite it often being ignored by politicians. This initiative follows the Parliament resolution calling for an EU-wide ban on the import of hunting trophies of species protected by CITES.

Hon. Brambilla, who served as president of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Rights during the 18th legislature and is still president of the Italian League for the Defense of Animals and the Environment, presented the bill during the first parliamentary session on Oct. 13, 2022.

According to CITES data, in the five-year period from 2014 to 2020, the European Union, the world’s second-largest importer of hunting trophies after the United States, imported more than 20,000 hunting trophies of animals belonging to 79 internationally protected species. Trade data shows that 427 trophies were imported into Italy from animals such as hippos, elephants, lions, leopard, polar bears, and a critically endangered black rhinoceros.

It is still legal to import hunting trophies of protected species, even if they are endangered. This bill to put an end to these imports meets with vast support of the Italian population. Polls show that 86% of Italians surveyed are against trophy hunting of all wild animals and 74% are in favor of banning the import of hunting trophies into Italy. Moreover, the #NotInMyWorld petition launched by HSI/Europe in Italy has already collected more than 42,000 signatures.

Hon. Brambilla, president of the Italian League for the Defense of Animals and the Environment, said: “In Panama from November 14 to 25, 184 CITES member countries will consider 52 proposals to increase or decrease protection measures for 600 species of wild animals and plants. It is essential that Italy plays its part here. At the national level and on its own, our country can already do a lot for threatened species, such as banning the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies from animals like tigers, rhinos and hippos. This practice is largely unknown by Italians, but is not as marginal as one might think. Not only because of the numbers, which are significant in a context of near-extinction of many endangered animal populations, but because of the very nature of trophy hunting, which sacrifices an invaluable heritage to the entertainment of hunters. I will work with the utmost conviction on gathering the broad support in Parliament to this bill.”

Martina Pluda, HSI/Europe’s director for Italy, said: “It is intolerable and irresponsible for our country to still be involved today in this type of colonial practices, which are cruel and threatening the future of so many species. As trophy hunting is a competition, the animals targeted are those who have the most impressive physical characteristics—the thick mane, long tusks and developed horns—of adult individuals in full reproductive age and often holding the functions of guide and protection. Therefore, they are critical to the survival and genetic integrity of that species. A ban on the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies of protected species in multiple EU member states would effectively help stop the killing of these animals. It is time for the Italian government to act responsibly, as other European countries are already doing and as the European Parliament has called for. We thank Congresswoman Brambilla for her political commitment to this cause.”

The opposition to trophy hunting is growing fast and is crystalized in many initiatives in Europe:

  • The Belgian Federal Parliament unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the government immediately stop authorizing trophy import permits of species protected under certain international trade regulations.
  • This year, in addition to Italy, the governments of Spain and Poland are actively considering policy options to ban the import and export of certain hunting trophies supported by strong public opinion polls; based on a 2021 representative survey, the majority of citizens in each country support a hunting trophy import ban.
  • Prior to these developments, the Netherlands and France pioneered this paradigm shift in Europe. In 2015, France implemented a ban on the import of lion-hunting trophies. In the same year, the Dutch government adopted a decision to ban the trophy imports of over 200 species, which was implemented in 2016.
  • A recent policy statement signed by approximately 170 conservation and animal protection non-governmental organizations from around the globe is also calling for an urgent end to trophy hunting. Several of these organizations are from key source countries for hunting trophies.

ENDS

Media contact: Adeline Fischer, senior communications manager: +4917631063219afischer@hsi.org  

“Country delegates are justifiably angry and frustrated by the disruptive and disrespectful behaviour of pro-whaling nations at this IWC.” - Humane Society International

Humane Society International / Europe


Minke whale
Alamy 

POROTOŽ, Slovenia—On the final day of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Slovenia, pro-conservation countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, India and Mexico united in calling for an urgent review of voting rules to prevent pro-whaling countries holding votes to ransom with their non-attendance, thereby breaking the quorum required for votes to take place.

At yesterday’s meeting, Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Iceland, Kiribati, Laos, Morocco and St. Lucia amongst others, failed to be present in the room to prevent a vote on the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. Negotiations earlier in the week had suggested that a sufficient number of countries had intended to vote in favour of the sanctuary had it gone ahead. A summary of country views expressed today can be found below.

Rebecca Regnery, senior director for wildlife at Humane Society International, said from the meeting: “Country delegates are justifiably angry and frustrated by the disruptive and disrespectful behavior of pro-whaling nations at this IWC. The world’s only international whale protection organisation is being held ransom by a handful of countries that merely need to step outside of the room in order to stand in the way of progress. Clearly a shake-up of IWC rules is needed. The need to protect whales is far too urgent for these kind of games. Delegates from Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay that proposed the sanctuary are palpably furious here at IWC at the use of such undemocratic tactics and vow to continue fighting for the whales. Although the sanctuary was not approved, we remain hopeful because efforts to undermine the ban on commercial whaling were unsuccessful and a resolution to address the issue of plastics in the oceans was adopted by consensus.”

The Buenos Aires Group countries from Latin America called for the IWC to take a firmer stance to stop what is “an offense to our countries.” They said the IWC was “being held hostage with its hands tied,” and that “kicking the can down the road is what pro-whaling countries do every time they disagree with something they don’t want.” The Buenos Aires Group noted that the proposal most likely would have been adopted if country delegates had not left the room and stressed that it remains committed to the conservation of whales and the marine environment and pursuit of a sanctuary to protect whales in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Australia expressed its deep disappointment and said that events “directly undermined the good faith governance of the IWC” and that the “poor behaviour” was exploiting the uncertainty in the Rules of Procedure. Australia called on the IWC to ensure that this undermining cannot happen again, and to agree a new ROP on this as an order of first business at the next IWC in Peru in 2024 to ensure that proper governance can be maintained. In addition to Australia, support for the Sanctuary proposal was also expressed on the floor by India and the United Kingdom amongst others.

In spite of multiple attempts—some blatant and some subtle—to undermine the moratorium on commercial whaling, it remained intact at the end of this meeting. The adoption by consensus of the Marine Plastics Resolution to provide IWC support for international negotiations on a global plastics treaty, and the endorsement of the whale welfare tool to assess the condition of whales who are stranded or otherwise suffering, are further proof that the IWC continues to focus on conservation of whales rather than returning to its whaling roots.

HSI’s whale experts at the IWC meeting are available for interviews.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org

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