What’s next with a pheasant, mink or raccoon?

by Krzysztof Turowski

Pheasant, raccoon dog or American mink – what connects these animals? Well, these are alien species, which will be covered soon by the new law project of the Polish Ministry of the Environment.

The full list of alien species in Poland is quite big. However, as hunters, we can skip fish, crayfish, corn stalk and other similar species, to focus on species directly concern us, namely: fallow deer, sika deer, mouflon, American mink (neovison vison), raccoon, raccoon dog, wild boar rabbit, muskrat and pheasant.
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All these are alien species. Some of them belong to a smaller group of so-called invasive alien species. Invasive species are a group whose proliferation threatens biodiversity and related ecosystem services or affects the ecosystem in an undesirable manner.

For example, an invasive alien species will be any species that negatively affects our native flora, such as American mink, or raccoon in Poland. Well, the mink has an incredibly destructive effect on the population of some birds or mammals. It destroys bird’s breeding, it strikes ducks, geese, coots or grebes that are practically defenseless during moulting. In simple words – mink is a pest that should not be in our nature. Despite the fact that the bambinist will look at American mink with love, it is our duty to eliminate it.

The new law is to facilitate this. It is enough for us that we will have a valid hunting license to hunt and it is only on its basis that we will be able to eliminate all invasive species at any number and any time, even if they are not mentioned in the license.

The fact of obtaining an invasive species should still be noted in the book of hunting records. The coiunt will also have to appear in the reports in the annual hunting plan.
In in my opinion, a large salut to our native fauna. This law will give to hunter the opportunity to react much faster. Especially in those places where the occurrence of such game was not found and were not visible in hunting plans.

The problem is serious, because there are more and more Racoon Dogs in Poland from year to year. Data from the Polish Hunting Association show that in 2005 their population was estimated at 800 individuals, and currently there are over 5600 of them. The Polish Hunting Association is conducting research and collecting samples of the sheds.

So, if you shot a Racoon dog in Poland, be sure to check and save the GPS coordinates. Measure the Racoon dog – length and height and take a sample – preferably from an ear. Collect the sample in a small jar and pour over alcohol. Send the sample and data to the Polish Hunting Association Main Board or to your local District Board.
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Coming back to the law itself. As usually, every stick has two ends. The other end is a game that is not part of an invasive group but is still in an alien species group like a pheasant.

Currently breeding and introduction of the pheasant is exempt from the obligation to obtain the consent of the Ministry. The planned act is to partially change this. In terms of the breeding itself, we will not have any changes, while each introduction will require obtaining the permission issued by the Minister of the Environment. Obtaining consent should not be a problem if the introduction is not harmful to our native species and habitats. However, we can expect that the need to issue a decision will extend the process of pheasant’s introduction.

If this law will be introduced, it will also necessitate changes in the list of game species, removing invasive species from it. The list of invasive species alone is not yet closed and there may still be species such as Canada goose, gray squirrel or coati. By the way, do you know that the gray squirrel is a delicacy in Great Britain? The British says it’s juicy and sweet, and their meat is something between duck and lamb. Apparently, the best are patties. Squirrel meat combines with bacon, potatoes, rutabaga, onions, hazelnuts and parsley. The whole is wrapped in a cake roll and baked at 180 degrees for 45 minutes.

Who knows, maybe soon there will be much more recipes for a gray squirrel or a Canada goose.

Happy Hunting

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