Hunters head for the high country

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The mountains of Norway are seeing an influx of hunters these days, as rype (grouse) season gets underway. Last year’s hunt was the worst in years, and hunters are being warned not to be greedy this year either.

Mountain areas like those around Rondane will soon be alive with hunters as the fall season gets underway. PHOTO: Views and News

There’s been some slight optimism over the latest grouse counts, but the valued birds remain few and far between. Only 160,000 grouse were shot last year, reports newspaper Aftenposten, down 27 percent from the year before which had been a low point itself.

As 60,000 hunters head for the hills, experts warn them to remember that just 10 years ago, they shot around half-a-million grouse. The decline that’s emerged in recent years is worrisome, they say, and many think stricter quotas are needed to protect grouse stocks.

At Eidfjord on the west side of the Hardanger Plateau, officials have decided to prevent grouse hunting this year to rebuild stocks. In Finnmark in northern Norway, officials are setting daily quotas. They’re also urging hunters to take along a fishing pole and enjoy the great outdoors in other ways.

“We want to give as many hunters as possible access to the hunt, but it must be sustainable,” Jo Inge Breisjøstrand of the state forestry agency Statskog told Aftenposten. Both he and officials at hunting and fishing association Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund think hunters understand the need for moderation.

“Shoot your Christmas dinner and be happy with that,” advised one. “This is the year to exhibit common sense.”

Around 190,000 Norwegians pay for hunting licenses in the country every year, 96 of them men and 4 percent women. All must undergo an exam to qualify.

One of three hunters only go after grouse and other small animals, while 40 percent hunt only large game like deer and moose.

The grouse hunt gets underway September 10, while the moose hunt starts on September 25.

Last year hunters shot around 36,000 moose, 31,000 deer, 5,100 wild reindeer and 20,400 hares in addition to thousands of birds and ducks.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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