Go hunt'em

Punjab wants crop-mowing boars and blue bulls dead

 
Published: Sunday 31 October 2004

the Punjab government has begun the administrative process of legalising the hunting of crop-depredating wild boars and blue bulls. A proposal for permit-based hunting of the two pestilent species in the state now lies with the state chief secretary for acceptance by the government.

"Our survey shows that wild boars in and around the Shivalik foothills and the blue bulls in the south-west regions of Punjab are causing heavy crop damage," says Punjab's chief wildlife warden A S Dogra. The state is likely to authorise sub-divisional magistrates to issue permits to hunters identified by the panchayats of affected villages. "We may also provide compensation to farmers. Moreover, Punjab will not be the first state to allow such culling. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have standing orders on shooting of blue bulls," Dogra adds. But conservation groups oppose the move. "It is a smokescreen for legalising hunting," alleges Sandeep Jain of People for Animals, a Ludhiana-based non-governmental organisation.

Romulus Whittaker, an expert on captive breeding and hunting, says hunting of the two animals is rampant as they are looked upon as pests rather than endangered species. "Farmers all over India have wild boar problems. Certainly, there are inherent problems with allowing the hunting of even nuisance animals but there could be bigger problems if farmers are told they cannot protect their crops. They will take things into their own hands," Whittaker warns. If the state government accepts the proposal, it will have to be moved through the state wildlife board and the National Wildlife Board and approved under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and its 2002 amendment for implementation.

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