There are currently ninety wildlife refuges. | Archive

Hunters' organisations in the Balearics are expressing their opposition to an approach adopted by the environmentalists GOB, who have invited owners of rural estates to request conversion into wildlife refuges, which would mean prohibition of any kind of hunting. The Balearic association of hunting groups (ABEC) and the hunting federation both argue that this is no solution for maintaining biodiversity.

Pedro Vanrell, president of ABEC, says that GOB attack hunting with a mantra for an urban audience that wants to hear it. "But they forget that a finca without hunting and without sustainable dynamics does not favour biodiversity nor compatibility with agricultural activity."

"We must reverse the structural causes of the deterioration of the natural environment, and we want to say to the enemies of hunting that thousands of hours of voluntary work are undertaken in Mallorca to carry out sowing and repopulation, fire prevention, overpopulation control and maintenance of water points. Economic benefits generated by hunting have meant that not all fincas have been sold to foreign investors, thereby contributing to the conservation of species and the preservation of cultural features."

Vanrell adds that even where a wildlife refuge is created, there is still some hunting and that this has to be paid for out of the public purse.

The federation's president, Pedro Bestard, believes that "the creation of wildlife refuges is being done out of ideology". He stresses that there are animals, such as goats, which need to be hunted. "If they weren't, there wouldn't be a single green shoot left in the Tramuntana Mountains." He adds that hunters sow crops so that animals can feed and points out that five per cent percent of land must be left as a reserve - "free of hunting".

The Council of Mallorca's director-general of hunting, Jaume Tomàs, says that the Council is neither in favour of nor against wildlife refuges. "We limit ourselves to processing requests if owners make them." According to the Council, there are currently 90 wildlife refuges. These occupy a total of 10,391 hectares.