Meeting of Animal Right Activists and Professional regarding Protection of Wolves

Friday February 3rd, 2017

In response to draft law on reduction of number of wolves and their destruction key people (representatives) of Georgian Society for the Protection and Safety of Animals – GSPSA, Species Conservation Center NACRES and World Wildlife Fund – WWF held a working meeting on February 2, 2017. Researcher and scientist Mr. Jason Badridze and director of Lagodekhi Protected Areas Adminsitration Mr. Giorgi Sulamanidze were invited to the meeting.

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The purpose of the meeting was to review legislative incentive of citizen Giorgi Labadze submitted to Committee of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of the Parliament of Georgia. The incentive aims to resolve problems related to increased number of predator wild animals (wolves) and involves changes to the Administrative Code of Georgia

Information was published on the website of Parliament of Georgia on January 18, 2017 that “the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources Protection discussed the necessity of resolving problems related to predator wild animals”. According to the information, the first deputy chairman of the committee, Zaza Khutsishvili thinks that the number of predator wild animals has increased in Georgia, which is proved by more frequent attacks on citizens and domestic animals in Georgia. In his opinion, the situation is caused by ban on wolf hunting effective since 1995. He added that despite some attempts, no regulations are in place to solve the problem. After registration of legislative incentive, member of the parliament, Zaza Khutsishvili who also states that he is an active hunter, spoke about the significance of regulating wolf numbers and said that the number of predator animals fairly exceeds number of ungulates. Based on his information, there are more than 2000 wolves in Georgia. The citizen, author of the legislative incentive, wishes that “hunting for predator animals, the abundance of which poses serious threat to human life as well as agricultural activities and development of agriculture, should not be deemed as violation of hunting rules.”

The head of Biodiversity and Forestry Department of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Karlo Amirgulashvili stated that “today seasonal problem is solved locally, which does not improve the entire situation and complex approach to the issue is necessary… There are serious problems indeed that result in wolf attacks. One of such problems is waste dumps directly near the villages, yet another one – cattle roaming pastures without supervision along with resting areas without protection. Lack of professional hunters also aggravates the situation. According to representative of the ministry, campaign of raising public awareness should also be conducted.”

The above information is available from media on this topic:

Liberal – “Laws on Wolf and Wolf Laws in Woods”
IPRESS – “Zaza Khutsishvili: Regulations on Predator Animals Are Necessary”
Radio Freedom – “Irakli Matcharashvili: Visa Liberalization Should not be under Question due to Caprices of Hunters”
MTISAMBEBI.GE – “Predator Attack Problem Is Real and Cannot Wait”
MTISAMBEBI.GE – “Zurab Gurielidze: Wolf Is Not Prosecuted Anywhere Else”
TV IMEDI – Draft Law on Wolves

Animal right activists and representatives of non-governmental organizations in this field, specialists and professionals reviewed this legislative incentive on the meeting of February 2. They agreed that speaking of increase in wolf numbers is not true. There are many discrepancies and errors in facts and legislative incentive of citizen Giorgi Labadze is not based on real evidence and facts. As a result, the committee cannot make objective decision on this draft, if specialists, professional and non-governmental organizations working in this field are not consulted.

All attendants of the meeting made a unanimous decision to appeal to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources Protection in order to involve professionals and representatives of the non-governmental organizations in the discussion.

Attendants of the meeting gave positive review to Species Conservation Center NACRES document – “Ideas on Predator Regulating Actions”.

Georgian Society for the Protection and Safety of Animals - GSPSA independently thinks that this incentive of regulating predator animal (wolf) problem through hunting is started by hunters/poachers and aims to create opportunity for certain individuals to hunt using budget/state funds. GSPSA outlines that first deputy head of the Committee of the Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Parliament of Georgia, Zaza Khutsishvili is an active hunter. As a result, his mentality favors hunting popularization. A reasonable doubt is raised that Zaza Khutsishvili may use his position to support hunters’ interests. Based on the above, GSPSA thinks that this issue should not be decided upon by hunters, while people with different profession and focuses should be members of this committee.

The attendants of February 2 meeting agreed to continue consultations and joint appeals to the government. A petition to protect wolves will be also published. Organizations and specialists will jointly and individually work on and publish ideas and attitude towards this legislative incentive.

Photos from social networks – First Deputy Head of Committee of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of the Parliament of Georgia, Zaza Khutsishvili

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Voluntarily created by GSPSA member Irakli Geleishvili
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