There is a battle between hunters and forest owners

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Of: Charlotte Borst

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A browse fence protects young spruces: But in front of the fence the small spruces wither. “They could probably be as tall as the spruce trees behind the fence without browsing,” explains forest researcher Klaas Wellhausen. © AELF / Wild Bavaria

The forest-game conflict, which is smoldering throughout Germany, has now also arrived in the Munich district. The forest owners accuse the hunters of no longer living up to their responsibilities.

district – At dusk, the hunters go hunting again. Traditionally, deer hunting began on May 1st. But on that date, a lawsuit has erupted that ignited the Germany-wide smoldering wild game conflict between forest farmers and hunters in the district.

The accusations

The forest owners accuse the “hobby hunters” of no longer living up to their responsibilities in the forest. They are worried that the many animals in the forest are harming the young trees. They call for stricter hunting in the southeastern part of the district: more hunting days and higher numbers of people killed. But the hunters find very wild in the forest attractive and want to change as little as possible.

Represents forest owners: Hunters should kill more game so that beech and oak trees come to life.
Represents forest owners: Hunters should kill more game so that beech and oak trees come to life. © The Hague

“The forest is in need,” says Johann Killer from Altkirchen (Sauerlach municipality). “The forests are in danger of dying. Winters are getting milder. The deer multiplied strongly. We need to identify twins and triplets that are being born. It is a danger to the forest, ”says Killer. The deer eat the young shoots of the trees and prefer beech, spruce and oak. “These are exactly the trees we need for the climate-tolerant mixed forest.” Killer works on the board of the Bavarian Forest Owners ‘Association and is chairman of the Wolfratshausen Forest Owners’ Association.

Visits are particularly serious in the Brunnthal, Höhenkirchen and Hohenbrunn areas

Transparency is particularly strong in Conservation Community 101 South 1 in the Brunnthal, Höhenkirchen and Hohenbrunn areas. It was the result of the large vegetation report from 2021. The affected hunting associations and foresters’ associations therefore applied to the lower hunting authority in the district office to shorten the closed season. The hunting authority decided that the hunt for roe deer and annual females should begin as early as 19 April. The association “Wildes Bayern” complained promptly.

The dispute ends in the administrative court

Now the Bavarian administrative court must rule. Wilde’s Bayern eV is committed to protecting wildlife and is based in Aschheim. Mrs. Christine Miller demands that the lower hunting authority first in each case check whether the damage from browsing goes beyond the usual level. The game biologist warns that pregnant crowned goats can hardly be distinguished from young crowned deer in March and April. In general, wild populations should be counted first. In their eyes, foresters are hostile to wildlife and only out for forest growth.

This is what the forest owners’ association demands

“No one wants a forest without wildlife,” says Werner Fauth. Ayingeren is chairman of the affected forest owners’ association. “But the wild stocks need to be adapted.” Otherwise, the forest would run out of time. “You can not shape the future of the future with ideas from the day before yesterday.” Werner Fauth calls for new rules in times of climate change. “The trees used to germinate, but the hunting times are still the same. It does not fit in anymore. “

Represents the hunters: Ernst Weidenbusch is against reducing the closed season.  Wildlife must remain tangible.
Represents the hunters: Ernst Weidenbusch is against reducing the closed season. Wildlife must remain tangible. © Matthias Balk / dpa

But Christine Miller believes the statements in the forestry report are far too pervasive for an entire conservation community. There are big differences from district to district. And forest owners should prevent bites with “reasonable” protective measures.

It is precisely the browsing situation during forest rejuvenation that the report has already examined for the conservation communities and also for a large number of hunting grounds, says Klaas Wellhausen. The forest researcher heads the forest department in the responsible office for agriculture, nutrition and forests and in 2021 prepared the vegetation report with his employees. He is critical of large-scale fencing of young trees. The habitat of wild animals is limited, the cost to forest owners is high and the fences have only a limited effect, “because they are difficult to keep close.” Wellhausen also refers to the Bavarian hunting law: “There must be a natural regeneration of the tree species suitable for the place, be possible without protective measures.”

The relationship with the hunting association is cool

Johann Killer would like hunters to hunt forest-oriented, so rejuvenation areas have a chance. The focus should be on serving nature: “We no longer have bears or wolves here,” says Killer, “it would be wild Bavaria.” Instead, the deer would multiply too much. He sees the hunters as responsible. But the relationship with the chairman of the Bavarian Hunting Federation (BJV) Ernst Weidenbusch is pretty cool. The two representatives of the various camps “recently shouted at each other for hours” during a phone call.

Deputy district administrator and CSU member of the state parliament, Weidenbusch, emphasizes first and foremost that the BJV is a recognized nature conservation association. He rejects a reduction of the closed season: “A shift in hunting times: yes. But no abbreviation. The deer need rest periods. If the game is hunted too much, it is under constant stress. ”

Because the situation of forests is dramatic in many places in Germany, the federal government wants to change the hunting law nationwide and increase the number of homicides. The BJV also speaks out against this and warns against disturbing the ecological balance in the forest.

The forest owners want unity

Johann Killer sees other reasons for the hunters’ resistance. A compressed hunting time makes the shot easier: “The hunters can cover the distance faster and kill more game in less time.” And the more animals that graze, the fewer trees and shrubs come up. “The hunter sees game better. In contrast, hunting in a healthy forest is much more demanding. ”

Pests or forest dwellers worthy of protection: the roe deer nibbles off the buds of the trees
Pests worthy of protection or forest dwellers: the buck nicks the buds of the trees off © mm

Klaas Wellhausen hopes that wherever there is an urgent need for reforestation, and excessive browsing makes regeneration difficult or impossible, forest owners, hunting associations and hunters will sit down and agree on new target. Werner Fauth also wants to see hunters and forest owners close ranks: “It only works together. Everything else is useless. “

This succeeded in Sauerlach, Straßlach and Dingharting. The hunting associations have entered into new contracts with their tenants and agreed on higher shooting numbers. “The result is already visible after three years,” says Johann Killer in his private forest: “A greater variety of species is developing. We see young beeches, oaks and spruce.”

vegetation report

The forest authorities have occupied the forest on behalf of the Free State. Foresters throughout Bavaria counted millions of plants and took random samples. The large forest report from 2021 sees an urgent need for action for 46 percent of the approximately 750 Bavarian conservation communities. Here – as in the area of ​​Höhenkirchen, Brunnthal, Hohenbrunn – the number of killings should be increased, to five percent they should even be “increased rapidly”. Forest owners want to rebuild the forest after the difficult years in which it was damaged by bark beetles and storms. The Free State is investing 70 million euros in this.

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