The hunting ban has also resulted in financial losses for locals who cannot shoot. Robbie says, “If you can’t hunt on your private property, you have no income. You also don’t have the ability to inject economic revenue into the community. So hoteliers, butchers, bakers and everything that comes with hunting.
Realizing that wildlife populations were spiraling out of control, the Spanish government asked shooters to cull 5,000 deer in Cabaneros National Park in February. The shooters refused because the new rules prevented them from selling what they had shot. The government refused to fund the slaughter. “It can’t go ahead until it’s agreed who will pay for the project,” Robbie says.
This level of slaughter would have been disastrous. Robbie says: “You can imagine what that would do to the landscape from a tranquility perspective to impacting wildlife. To shoot as many animals in that time period. And it’s almost ironic that the Spanish government says don’t hunt and now we have to hunt now.
“Spanish hunters and Spanish hunting organizations choose to hunt only because they know it is best for Spanish wildlife. They know it’s better for the Spanish wildlife habitat. They don’t do it because of some kind of bloodlust.
Robbie says not shooting down is also disastrous. Animals damage vegetation. He says: “Boars and deer need vegetation to survive. Wild boars tear the landscape, take root. It’s almost like an elephant, in that if you grow populations of elephants, they will alter their habitat to the point of destroying it. It’s the same with any wildlife population that gets out of control.
Robbie says landowners feel helpless. They want the old rules restored, which would allow them to take control of the landscapes that many of them own. He says, “They know what the solution is, what they have to do. But the Spanish government, unfortunately, handcuffed them to not being able to hunt, not being able to generate economic income, and not being able to put food in the community pantry.
“All venison and wild boar are consumed in Spain. They are not left in the landscape.