What is your opinion on canned hunting

Shooting in the brothel

The economization of hunting at the expense of society and the animal world cannot go much further. The joy of hunting behind fences: from over-shooting in flat-rate game gates.

On April 29 of this year, four hunters were reported to the St. Pölten public prosecutor: the current state hunter master of Lower Austria, former finance minister and ÖVP boss, Ing. Josef Pröll; the former state hunter master of Lower Austria and former Raiffeisen boss, Dr. Christian Konrad; the Austrian businessman and lobbyist Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly; as well as the general secretary of the Central Office of Austrian State Hunting Associations, so to speak the highest full-time representative of the Austrian hunting organizations, Dr. Peter Lebersorger; These four men were reported for cruelty to animals through mass breeding and mass shooting in a hunting gate of around 200 hectares, in which the habitat was so degraded that the ecological hunting association brought a lawsuit at the same time because of forest desolation and endangerment.

It is essential who was reported. Representatives of the hunting community and prominent hunters are symbolic figures of the hunt, as such they serve as role models for the hunters and as political actors they amend the hunting laws and thus determine the direction of the hunt. If a legal form of hunting causes not only animal rights activists, but also hunters to report a complaint, then this is not a fundamental hostility to hunting, but an objection to a socially intolerable excess of hunting, which not only inadvertently violates animal and nature conservation rights on a case-by-case basis, but in principle and deliberately ignored - and on top of that harms society. None of us should be indifferent to this.

Gate hunts are a journey through time. The hunt is mostly similar to three centuries ago, when the nobility drove vast amounts of game in front of the hunting stalls during the so-called discontinued hunts, game that was herded into an area enclosed by rags, nets and cloths in the weeks before. No searching, no chasing, just shooting. Today the game is not first driven into the gates, but locked up and fed there all year round. An all-round fence replaces the cloths, so that no game gets by the hunter's rags, hunting success is guaranteed.

The baroque desire to shoot down as large a number of wild animals as possible in fenced-off areas in a short period of time or, to put it correctly in terms of hunting policy: to kill, is incomprehensible to most of us, including some hunters. Reports about it always trigger a wide range of reactions, from disgust to incomprehension to anger. Hunting in the gate differs from what hunters and non-hunters commonly understand by hunting - the tracking down and killing of wild animals living in the wild in a complex environment - not only in degree, but in substance. If you agree to Lieutenant Colonel Sanftleben, a role of the cabaret artist Georg Schramm - “The ball is the ejaculate” - then these haymen (and almost all of them are men) suffer from satyriasis. Correspondingly, hunters who want to find the game, which is superior to us in perception, with all their senses, refer to such hunting gates in their hunting forums as brothels. Such a 200 hectare gate would correspond to a street line. But - assuming that the hunt in itself is acceptable - what is the problem, as long as one does not let the 60 wounded wild boars slowly die there, as the four reported hunters are accused of? They kill wildlife in the gates, yes. But hunters outside the gates also do that, also with joy and relish, even there not every animal falls in the fire. Sometimes the gate hunters are even better, because they are more fanatical. Whether in the gate or outside, a pig has a pig if the marksman is good.

Are hunting gates suitable for pasture? Oh what righteousness. The term is known to be extensively flexible, especially for those who prominently represent grazing men and grazing justice. And finally there are also large gates, with intact habitat and natural living conditions for the game locked up in them, which often live better in such a gate than outside. Gates are not always used for mass breeding and mass shooting. Animal welfare is undoubtedly important, in hunting grounds, but also outside of it. Then what is the difference between hunting inside and outside the gate? So what have we got to do with Jagdgatter?

A lot. Hunting gates are a creeping privatization of wild animals. Because as long as they live, wild animals are ownerless and nobody's property. They belong neither to the hunter nor to the landowner, but to a certain extent all of us, like air and rain. As a result, poaching is also defined as a crime against community values ​​in Germany. Because wildlife is just that: a community value. And what do we as a community get from this value of ours? No tangible, material gain - but an ideal one. Those who do not want to kill wild animals and do not want to own them, at least want to see them live. Unpredictable, unpredictable wildlife encounters in the wild are extraordinarily fulfilling and much more exhilarating than in a zoo or a fenced game park. Should that only be possible in national parks?

Hunting gates are the most extreme form of private, exclusive use of wild animals, the clearest loss of this community value for society. The game lives, protected from external influences, 365 days a year behind an impenetrable fence. No game can go in or out; long-distance changes are prevented, as is the genetic exchange, which is important for species conservation. This is done in a controlled manner by releasing animals that are predisposed into the gate if required. The fence also protects the good game from the bad wolf. Everything under control. Also economically. The economization of hunting at the expense of society and the animal world cannot go much further.

Many hunters complain, often rightly, of the egoism of nature, that reckless “nature is mine” attitude of many non-hunters who go hiking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking or running in nature. And yet they have in their own ranks, even some as their representatives, the most unscrupulous nature users. "The safeguarding of a healthy environment as a habitat for the wild fauna" declares the Lower Austrian hunters' main task. But it is precisely in this federal state that hunts in fenced areas are becoming established as the form of hunting of the future. After some hunters had founded an “initiative to abolish gate hunting” in 2009, and the now reported managing director of the Lower Austrian State Hunting Association, Peter Lebersorger, declared: “A hunt is only that which takes place in the wild. Anything else can only be seen as legal shooting in an enclosure ”, hunting gates were actually“ abolished ”by being quickly converted into“ enclosed private hunts ”in an amendment to the hunting law in 2010.

What a mockery! According to the German Hunting Act, a pacified area is defined as the area on which hunting rests. Hunting gates, which are now the exact opposite of pacified districts, hypocritically renaming them as enclosed private hunts is more than a cynical euphemism. It is the official hunting approval for the shooting of captive animals. It is considered a hunt, because in enclosed, i.e. completely fenced, private hunts, the closed seasons also apply outside the gates - although a shooting time that deviates from the wild can be set if necessary. Game may only be released in the first half of the year and, just as in the wild, only hunted four weeks after it has been released, presumably so that the released animals are no longer quite as tame and may even appear suicidal. In any case, the already rare black grouse and capercaillie commit suicide when they fly against the endless fences over two meters high like songbirds against large glass windows. And as an indulgence, the State Hunting Association then sponsors projects in favor of these species.

Of course, it is known that "if entire valleys or mountain sticks are suddenly enclosed (fenced off)", paths that are regularly used by game are interrupted. For this reason, the state government will establish supraregional game corridors by ordinance - with wise foresight for the first time from 2020. By then, game has given up the hiking routes, because large-scale fenced areas cut up the wildlife habitat much more than mountain bike routes, forest and hiking trails, cross-country trails or even roads.

What is propagated as progress by the State Hunting Association, as a “milestone for grazing justice”, ultimately only serves to establish “canned hunting” as a common form of hunting. Assurances by the hunter representatives to ensure “mental hygiene” and to ensure “that the business that could previously be done with regular, large wild boar hunts will be excluded in the future”, as the now announced Christian Konrad asserted in an interview in 2012, recall the voluntary self-restraint of the food industry for advertising to children: hypocritical, ineffective and pure advertising gimmick. Just as the corporations define and set the nutritional requirements themselves, the hunters also ensure that they do not have to be restricted by the regulations and ethical standards they have chosen themselves. The driving force is, not surprisingly, the considerable economic rank of the hunt, and with Jagdgattern the gross profits are about double the hunting rent.

A network of hunting, business and politics, which is hardly imaginable for other countries, leads in Austria to overstaffed hunting gates being approved even in Natura 2000 protected areas, undermining their aim - to protect endangered wild native plant and animal species and their natural habitats .

The official representatives of the hunters unequivocally and quickly condemn misconduct by little black sheep, hunters who lay poison bait, shoot strictly protected predators or inflict unnecessary torture on game animals and, in the worst case, punish them with an end to compulsory membership and thus exclusion from the hunters. But this time hunters were reported who, as bellhammers, established a form of hunting that exclusively benefits an economic and political elite, which in society hunts is about “getting closer to each other”, as Christian Konrad puts it. Killing together is a strong bond between people. The interest - or the necessity - to hunt for this end purpose is increasing: Surveys by the Market Institute show that more and more hunters are using the hunt as a basis for networking. Because of sustainability, nature conservation, ecological necessity or food procurement. Hunting is done because hunting creates a network, connections that can be used in times of need.

This would not require hunting in the gate, but canned hunting creates social capital and thus "ultimately more business success" - the hunting purpose for the organizer of company hunts, Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly - particularly targeted and efficient because the animals can be killed quickly and reliably. Due to the overpopulation, the game gets automatically in front of the box in small gates. Even in spacious gates, in which hunting guests hunt mainly because of the trophy and alone, only in the company of a professional hunter, hunting success is usually certain within a few days. This is important because today's hunters have less and less time and flexibility in terms of time that are needed to hunt subtly and in a game-appropriate manner. In this they are in line with the times, and a trend reversal is not in sight. The time savings in this hunt are, however, at the expense of society. Already now, as packaging waste from fast hunts, fences cut off the nature experiences of the non-hunting society and not only restrict the migration routes of the game: the free access to the forest, which has been regulated in the Forest Act since 1975, which hunters have always been a thorn in the side of hunters, is subtly restricted again by the back door of the hunting gate When we are led along gate fences more than two meters high, like cars between noise protection fences, in the best case to an overpass that not many people want to use: Who would want to hike in a hunting gate?

Hunting gates make it easy for us to overlook the fact that hunting can also be carried out quite differently: as wildlife management without disadvantages, sometimes even beneficial for society, for nature and species protection, as a habitat protecting, ecologically sustainable source of income for the landowner. But when the representatives of the hunters officially present shooting over the heap in flat-rate shooting gates as a hunt, non-hunters interested in nature can hardly avoid accepting the hunt, if at all, only as a pest control.

An adaptation of the hunt to the changed ecological and socio-cultural circumstances is undoubtedly overdue. But that is a task for society as a whole. Only together can hunters, animal rights and nature conservation associations preserve wild animals living in the wild as a community value and preserve hunting both as an ethically legitimizable, sustainable form of management and as a culturally anchored sporting activity. Shooting wild animals in enclosures is neither one nor the other. ■

Born in Vienna in 1962. Studied zoology and human biology in Vienna. Dissertation on "Winter ecology of Eastern Alpine red deer herds". Dr. phil. Deer research in Austria and Scotland.

("Die Presse", print edition, November 29, 2014)