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Friday, May 20, 2022

Center Party now targeting eagles

Norway’s farmer-friendly Center Party, which has long wanted to shoot more wolves, is moving forward with plans to target eagles as well. It claims there are now so many kongeørn (golden eagles) in Norway that they’re threatening grazing livestock.

There have been more eagle sightings in recent years, and more reports of attacks on lamb and reindeer calves. PHOTO: Håkon Jacobsen/NFD

“The golden eagles are a problem for grazing animals, especially along the coast,” Marit Arnstad, the Center Party’s parliamentary leader, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Both reindeer and sheep are at risk.”

Golden eagles have been under firm protection orders since 1968. There have been reports in recent years. however, of eagles and other birds of prey swooping down on lambs and reindeer calves.

Norway’s government ministry in charge of climate and environmental issues already has a proposal out to hearing that could make it easier to shoot eagles to reduce ranchers’ losses of lambs and domesticated reindeer. Rules may be eased in two restricted project areas in Fosen in Trøndelag (central Norway) and in Troms County in Northern Norway.

Arnstad, whose party is trying to unseat the current Conservatives-led government in Parliament, claims the trial project should have been initiated long ago. “It’s very unfortunate that this is taking such a long time,” Arnstad told NRK. “As late as this spring we saw that the eagles were causing great damage during the calving period.”

She faces touch opposition from Norwegian ornithologists who have fought hard to protect eagles and called her calls for shooting eagles “completely meaningless.” Alv Ottar Folkestad, an expert on eagles for the Norwegian Ornithological Association, said eagles don’t just go after small grazing animals but all animals weighing one to two kilos. Lambs and reindeer calves are not under any special threat from eagles, he claimed, that mostly hunt other birds and rodents.

Folkestad also stressed that eagles fly over the entire country and can’t be managed locally. It would be a “misunderstanding,” he said, to allow eagle hunting in specific areas. He further claimed that the eagle population has not increased enough to warrant hunting or any need for restricting their population growth.

Arnstad, whose party has also called for shooting more wolves to cater to its farming constituency in an election year, insisted there are 850 nesting pairs of eagles in Norway at present and that it’s time to regulate their population. “There’s no talk of driving them to extinction,” she told NRK, “but regulating them out of consideration to both the eagle population and grazing livestock.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund



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