Small World -- Sort Of

Considering my last post on presidential campaign frustrations, I figured I'd follow my Ameri-centric concerns with a more global view.
During my routine scan of the news today, I kept an eye out for foreign headlines, and came up with a few interesting ones that point out how strikingly similar and eerily different hunting issues are around the world: 20070705_earth

BEAR CENSUS IN SLOVAKIA: Due to an ongoing battle between hunters and animal rights groups, Slovakia is undertaking a census of the country's bears. Using GPS collars, cameras, and ground crews (at a cost of an estimated $6.3 million) officials hope to determine a true population number. According to this AFP report current estimates by ecologists and hunting groups vary widely. As bear populations are squeezed by human development, concerns about limiting encounters with people are on the rise.
On one side of the argument is park keeper Emil Rakyta, who says that without natural predators, bear populations are too numerous and becoming more aggressive. "Hunting is the sole solution," he says. (Between 2000 and 2006, 500 hunting permits were issued and 194 bears were shot.) On the other side of the argument is member of the animal protection group Vlk Eric Valaz, who says, "Hunting does not solve anything apart from killing bears." Anything sound familiar, Jersey?

ILLEGAL AMMO IN RUSSIA: On April 21, Pastor Phillip Miles of South Carolina's Christ Community Church was convicted in a Moscow court of smuggling hunting ammunition into Russia, and sentenced to three years and two months behind bars. According to this Washington Post story, Pastor Miles was arrested in February after arriving in Moscow with cartridges he'd brought for a friend who owned a Winchester rifle. "It's a strange sentence for one box of hunting bullets," Pastor Miles said as he was led from the court in handcuffs. His lawyer is appealing the decision. Does the sentence feel spookily excessive to anyone else?

BIRD HUNTING BAN IN MALTA: One April 24, the European Court passed a ruling that banned the 2008 spring hunting of quail and turtle doves in Malta. The next day, the European Union commission hailed the decision, citing concerns that, "Current hunting practices would endanger the species." According to this EUBusiness.com report, Malta had been the only EU member state to allow spring hunting of quail and turtle doves, the populations of which are declining throughout Europe. The dispute between pro- and anti-hunters had allegedly led to violence and vandal attacks, largely blamed on Malta's Federation for Hunting and Conservation.

This has been your world briefing. -K.H.