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I exchange a boar for a deer. Possible options…

The history of a very controversial experience of acclimatization of animals that are not characteristic of the country is very old. The last time it excited the public five years ago, when experts sharply opposed the idea of replacing the already traditional wild boars in our lands with American white-tailed deer. A new surge of interest was caused by the import of about three hundred heads of these ungulates to the Voronezh region and the accompanying meeting of hunting experts and biologists in the Russian Academy of Sciences.

It would seem that there is nothing wrong with the appearance of another object of hunting in our open spaces, especially such a solid one as a deer? However, experts who have learned from the bitter experience of such practices (American mink, raccoon dog, etc.), do not accidentally sound the alarm. Here are their opinions from various sources (given in chronological order and abbreviations).

“Waving without looking” (2012)
Not saying a word, several hunters sent me the minutes of the meeting of the Department of state policy and regulation in the sphere of hunting and wildlife Ministry of environment with the Executive authorities of subjects of the Russian Federation held on 26 June 2012 under the chairmanship of A. E. Bersenev, and meetings held on 15 August 2012 under the leadership of Deputy Minister V. A. Lebedev, on the theme “prevention of occurrence and spread of African swine fever among wild boars on the territory of the Russian Federation”. In all the letters, the officials are perplexed and asked to assess the possible consequences for the animal world and hunters of the next innovation.

At the meetings, the figures that define the state policy and regulation in the sphere of hunting and wildlife, representatives of the Ministry of agriculture, Rosprirodnadzor, Rosselkhoznadzor, “Centrokhotcontrol” and fgbu GOOCH noted, among other things, “the need for the preparation of the Federal target program on struggle with Achs, including economic mechanisms for the substitution of a boar for other types of hunting resources”, recommended “to Orient the hunters to carry out work for the replacement of wild boar and other wild ungulates», and the MPR was obliged to work out the issues of “acclimatization of white-tailed deer and Siberian ROE deer in hunting grounds in the European part of the Russian Federation”. Executive authorities are required to submit proposals to the Department before October 1, 2012, aimed at increasing the number and acclimatization of wild ungulate species that are resistant to the ASF virus. More than that, A. E. Bersenev said that the Russian delegation that visited Finland reached an agreement with the Ministry of forestry and agriculture on the possibility of importing 30 individuals of white-tailed deer to Russia for 3 years in order to acclimatize.

Experts immediately had questions: whether the “replacement” of wild boar with white-tailed deer and Siberian ROE deer is necessary, who needs it, whether it is possible in principle; how “acclimatization” fits into Russia’s international obligations; at whose expense it will be carried out; what may be the consequences?

Let’s start the analysis with the cause — African swine fever (ASF).

ASF is a serious disease (high mortality, virus transmission can last up to two years or more, the epidemic process is not seasonal), and it should be treated accordingly. In all countries, swine fever was fought as follows: quarantine was declared, all domestic and wild livestock in the center of the disease and in the 30-kilometer zone were destroyed and carefully disposed of, and no (!) transportation of animals, meat or forage. We should have done the same. But in practice, often-take what you want and where you want. The obvious folly was the corral “depopulation” hunting for wild boar not only in the quarantine zone, but also throughout the region or region. Moreover, officials recommended first of all shooting of adult pigs, which led to the mass movement of orphaned young individuals. And they, potential migrants, had to be mostly removed from the population, which was proposed by scientists and which, with great delay, is now accepted. The spread of ASF infection in the Russian Federation was undoubtedly facilitated by the recently adopted MPR “Standards for the permissible withdrawal of hunting resources and standards for the number of hunting resources in hunting grounds” (orders of the Ministry of natural resources of Russia No. 138 of April 30 and No. 554 of December 20, 2010), which sharply limited the share of ungulate juveniles in production (up to 20%, for wild boar – from 40% to 60 (80) % of the quota). With such standards, hunters destroy the sedentary core of populations, contributing to increased mobility of young orphans and the migration process as a whole.

The focus of ASF in Russia is expanding. Officials are scared-some may lose a warm, comfortable chair. In this situation, of course, it is better to “perebdet”…, as it has already been more than once (remember bird flu, swine flu, SARS, etc.) and demonstrate the “ebullient” activity. And vigorous activity is possible only with large-scale financing, without which “palaces” can not be built.

And found “the switchman” — wild boar. The sly phrase “replacing the wild boar with white-tailed deer and Siberian ROE deer in hunting grounds” means, in fact, destroying it as a species in the European part of Russia, and if, God forbid, it breaks out beyond the Urals, then all over the country. No view, no problem! But the total destruction of any kind of animal, let me remind you, is a measure that contradicts the existing legislation of the Russian Federation in the field of hunting and conservation of hunting resources.

Our statesmen probably do not know that the wild boar has a unique ecological niche and it can not be “replaced” by representatives of another family in principle. And should I? African swine fever in the twentieth century swept through Western Europe, but during the epizootic and after it, the boar was not only not “replaced”, but also significantly increased the population. In France, for example, its annual production is 300-400 thousand, in Germany — 300-530 thousand individuals. For comparison: in Russia, according to the State service for accounting of hunting resources, up to 400 thousand are taken into account on a much larger territory, and 30-64 thousand heads are officially shot. And nowhere in Europe, except for the island of Sardinia, even with the highest population density of the species, almost an order of magnitude greater than in Russia, natural foci of infection have not formed.

Our neighbors (Belarusians, Balts, poles, as well as Germans, French, etc.), knowing full well about ASF in Russia, for some reason do not shout “guard”, do not conduct “depopulation” of wild boar, but calmly, rationally and very effectively conduct their hunting economy.

The wild boar in Russia became the most important hunting object for hunters, especially for poachers, and the main prey of large predators, “obscuring” other types of ungulates, and may have saved them from extermination in many areas in the dashing 90 – ies of the twentieth century. Imagine that it was “replaced”. How many heads of elk and other domestic (and imported) ungulates will we miss with increased hunting and predatory pressure on them in the absence or with a small number of wild boar?

Consider the legality of acclimatization of white-tailed deer and Siberian ROE deer. Acclimatization (or introduction) is a set of measures for the introduction of a species into new habitats; deliberate or accidental transfer of individuals of a species outside the range; introduction of an alien species into local natural complexes. The introduction of an alien species in many cases led to the displacement or oppression of native species, the reduction of biological diversity, increased competition, the introduction of new parasites and infections, etc. Therefore, artificial acclimatization of new animal species is prohibited in most countries.

The white-tailed deer is certainly an alien species, genetically similar to the European and Siberian ROE deer and elk. There is no doubt that it will become a significant competitor to these species, as well as to the red and spotted deer. With an increase in the number of white-tailed deer, as a larger and stronger, will displace ROE deer from their native habitats. Relatively “painless” white-tailed deer could be released only North of the border of the range of ROE deer (as in Finland, for example), but there is almost no wild boar.

Gentlemen officials! You can’t violate the Convention on biological diversity by artificially introducing an alien species into Russian hunting grounds (except for importation, keeping and exploitation in aviaries, of course)!

“Acclimatization” of Siberian ROE deer in the European part of Russia is also problematic, since European ROE deer are also common here. In this regard, I would like to remind you of an interesting conclusion of the state Department of The Russian Federation and Centrohotcontrol.

Ten years ago, the Moscow regional society of hunters and fishermen was denied permission to import to aviaries (not to nature!) Siberian ROE deer based on the conclusion of the state institution “centrohotcontrol” (no. 168/01-1-06 from 13.06.2002). Quoting the reasons for refusal that caused the shock from the experts: “When puluwannam the content of the Siberian ROE deer escape of animals and their deliberate hybridization with the European, which is contrary to the law “On animal world” the Convention “biodiversity”, so settling the Siberian ROE deer and her semi-free content outside its historical range believe to be illegal …”.

As you can see, domestic officials and departmental scientists know about the existence of the Convention, although they have distorted its name. They also know about the illegal introduction of alien species, although this is not related to the Siberian ROE deer, since it inhabited the Russian plain up to the Dnieper river in the post-glacial period and still inhabits this territory (thanks to releases in many regions) along with the European ROE deer. Therefore, we should not talk about its “acclimatization” either. I am sure they also know about the need to conduct an environmental review of the project. That’s just the memory of them is too selective!

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