WILDLIFE SPECIALISTS CONFERENCE
CONFERENCE CONCLUSIONS ON THE USE OF CARRION FOR WILDLIFE
February 9-11, 2007, Proaza (Asturias)
The meeting between NGO representatives and wildlife specialists, organized by the German foundations EURONATUR (Stiftung Europäisches Naturerbe) and Heidehof-Stiftungentre, together with FAPAS (Fondo para la Protección de la Fauna Salvaje), took place during the 9th, 10th and 11th of February in the municipality of Proaza (Asturias) in order to achieve the following goals:
- To evaluate the effects that European Regulation 999/2001, which laid down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is having upon the presence of carrion in wild locations among member states where the regulation has been implemented
- To evaluate studies conducted in other European countries dealing with the effects of carrion removal on species other than carrion-eating birds
- To compare the effects of the decrease in carrion availability on wildlife in different European countries
- To determinate what legal mechanisms can be used to obtain an exception to the application of Regulation 999/2001 for carnivorous species, especially brown bear and wolf, similar to the exception that was made for carrion-eating birds
- To lay the foundations for proposals to modify some of the articles in the regulation, to be included in its imminent review and incorporated in the new regulation
The participants of the workshop included wild fauna conservation specialists from Bulgaria, Greece and Slovenia. The workshop was further enriched by contributions from representatives of regional and national administrations involved in the regulations implementation. From the government of the Principado de Asturias, representatives from the Departments of Animal Sanitation and Hunting attended the workshop. The Spanish national government was represented by a technician from the Ministry of Agriculture, the organization responsible for the management of by-products in cattle-producing operations and their transportation on the national level.
First working session
During the first session, the representatives of European conservation organizations described the unique nature of bear and wolf populations in their countries and the effects that carrion removal is having upon them.
Currently Slovenia has a bear population consisting of around 500 specimens, and the bear is not considered an endangered species. In fact, the country plans to eliminate 106 specimens in year 2007. According to the responsible administrative agency, this number will ensure a stable rate of reproduction. In Slovenia, carrion is used to keep bears from approaching populated areas, and thereby to avoid conflicts between bears and humans. Furthermore, the high rates of wild ungulates allow bears to feed from the young of deer, roe deer and mountain goats. As the wolf population of Slovenia is composed of only 20 specimens, wolves do not compete with bear for either carrion or wild prey.
In Greece, the dependence of bear upon carrion is unclear, because dietary studies show that Greek bears rely on an extremely varied diet. Meanwhile, among the approximately 700 wolves in the country, attacks upon livestock are very frequent due to the low density of wild ungulates. This also forces wolves to approach populated areas searching for rubbish and carrion that are generally buried close to human settlements.
Segunda sesión de trabajo
In the second session, representatives from regional and national administrations participated. The representative from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture was responsible for the presentation of the proposed modifications of Regulation 1774/2002. He explained the complexity of the Spanish Royal Decree that was established in order to implement he mandates of the European regulation. In his presentation, he described how the Spanish law has categorized different animal by-products set aside for human consumption, indicating how they must be used, commercialized and eliminated. This law also provides exceptions for specific cases, clearly defining the species for which an exception can be made, under what conditions, and for what specific use. For wild animal feeding, only the use of category 2 and category 3 by-products are permitted. This excludes all category 1 by-products, which include high-risk products such as cow cadavers and mechanically recovered meat (MRM).
One important exception to this regulation has already been obtained: After a positive ruling from the dietary health department of the European Union, member states were authorized to provide carrion-eating birds of prey with category 1 by-products, under very strict conditions and according to clear conservation programs that demonstrate that the species can not be preserved through any alternative means.
There seems to be a consensus among the different administrations that the regulation currently in force was developed at the beginning of the mad cow disease crisis, and that the main priority at that point was extreme caution to prevent the spread of the disease to humans. Therefore, the upcoming modifications must reorganize the contents of the regulation and clarify confusing articles.FINAL ANALYSES
Besides the workshops main objective of collecting information on the current implementation and effects of Regulation 999/2001, the aim was also to evaluate the possibility of introducing fundamental modifications in the new Regulation that is expected to be approved by the end of 2007. These modifications should guarantee domestic animal health in Europe, while simultaneously satisfying the needs of wild fauna that have for centuries incorporated carrion scavenging into their ecosystems.
In order to understand what has happened since the approval of Regulation 999/2001 we should bear in mind the following factors:OPERATIVE CONSIDERATIONS ON THE APPLICATION OF REGULATION 999/2001
1º The Regulation was written and approved very quickly, due to the widespread alarm that arose following the appearance of mad cow disease.
2º The Regulation was written to reduce the incidence of the disease in the United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and other countries without a significant wild fauna presence. The needs of countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece and their substantial populations of carrion-dependent wildlife were not taken into account.
3º The plethora of gaps and problems inherent in Regulation 999/2001 is evident from the fact that during just a few years in force, it has undergone more than twenty-five revisions. The constant revision demonstrates that the regulation inadequately addressed the varied needs of a complex and diverse society. In the present case, the regulation is also in conflict with other imperatives under European law, which strictly protects wild fauna.
4º From a technical point of view, this Regulation is overreaching and excessively strict. Its implementation and application is disproportionate to the real need to control Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
The Asturian regional government became aware of the exaggerated nature of the carrion recovery efforts in the region and requested an exception to Regulation 999/2001 from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture of Spain. It proposed that parts of the region be declared remote areas, which would have rendered them exempt from the obligation to remove animal cadavers.
The Ministry of Agriculture chose not to submit the Asturian request to the European Union, with the result that thousands of animal carcasses continue to be collected and removed from the Asturian countryside every year, and are therefore not available as a feeding resource for wild fauna.
We are not aware of any other Spanish region that has similarly requested a declaration of remote areas.
REFUSAL TO DECLARE REMOTE AREAS LINKED TO ANIMAL BY-PRODUCT INDUSTRIES
Now we know that the Ministry of Agricultures refusal of the Asturian governments request, and possibly those of other Autonomous Communities, was based not on technical considerations for the application of Regulation 999/2001, but rather on the lobbying efforts of the various business interests involved in animal carcass collection that make up the National Association of Animal Fats, Seizures, and Meat By-product Transformation Industries (ANAGRASA).
LACK OF FOOD FOR VULTURE, WOLF AND BEAR POPULATIONS IN SPAIN IS CAUSED NOT ONLY BY EFFORTS TO ERADICATE BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY, BUT ALSO BY POLITICAL EFFORTS TO MAINTAIN THE LUCRATIVE BUSINESS OF ANIMAL CARCASS COLLECTION
The grease producers lobby seems to be more influential with the Spanish government than that of nature conservation organizations seeking wild fauna conservation.
It is obvious that regional administrations efforts do not reflect the importance of carrion in natural locations for biodiversity conservation. The main conservation measure that has been taken affects solely carrion-eating birds, and was to put in operation specific artificial feeding places. This provides a temporary solution, but cannot guarantee the correct operation of mountain ecosystems in the long term.
It seems clear that the Spanish conservation movement must take action to reclaim the federal government, specifically to pressure the Ministry of the Environment to take immediate action to remedy the feeding crisis among a large portion of the Iberian carrion-eating wildlife.
If the problem is not purely one of public safety, we cannot permit that wildlife conservation is put at risk simply to protect the interests of an economic sector that has grown dramatically since the implementation of European regulation 999/2001.
Prior to the finalization of the new European Regulation for BSE, the efforts of the Spanish conservation movement must commit to:
1º Pressuring the Autonomous Communities to declare territories known to contain carrion-eating wildlife Remote Areas.
2º Ensuring that the Communities create exceptions to Regulation 999/2001 to exclude mountainous areas where cattle use is not characterized by any of the risk factors for BSE.
3º Pressuring the Communities to create exceptions to the compulsory collection of those domestic animals, such as equines, that do not carry nor transmit BSE.
4º Establishing contacts with the European parliaments that are unaware of the problems in countries such as Spain, and, of course, ask Spanish representatives in the EU to advocate for our countrys unique ecological characteristics and to defend the great number and variety of species that have long depended on domestic animal carrion for its dietary needs.
5º Realizing that if the absence of carrion in Spain, which has endangered the survival of wild fauna, is due to pressure from the grease-production lobby, the Spanish conservation movement must also become a great lobbying force in administrative, local, regional, national and international governing bodies.
- www.sandach.com.es: Animal byproducts not destined for human consumption
- email@example.com: ANAGRASA (National Association of Animal Fats, Seizures, and MeatBy-product Transformation Industries)
- Magazine Quercus nº246, August 2006
- REGULATION (EC) nº 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001, laying down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
- REGULATION (EC) nº 1774/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2002, laying down health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption. In particular, see Article 23, section 2(d).
- ROYAL DECREE 1429/2003 of 21 November 2003, setting forth the conditions for the application of the EC regulation concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption.
- COMISSION DECISION 2003/322/EC of 12 May 2003, implementing Regulation (EC) nº 1774/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the feeding of certain necrophagous birds with certain category 1 materials.
The conference debates were very comfortable, due to the small number of participants
Outings to the field allowed participants to visit the habitat of the brown bear in central Asturias
A hike with Alfonso Hartasánchez crossed through areas traditionally used for carrion disposal, where the bears came to feed
Fondo para la Protección
de los Animales Salvajes (FAPAS)