Wiesmet breeding ground: killing foxes to protect birds

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Breeding area Wiesmet: Kill foxes to protect birds

Juergen Ironburn

A threat to rare meadow nesting birds: the fox, which is therefore now hunted in the Wiesmet and other breeding areas. © imago stock&people

MUHR AM SEE – Foxes are the main predators of partridge, curlew and lapwing chicks and also their nests. To repeat the good breeding success of these rare birds from last year, hunters, authorities and environmental organizations have agreed to intensify the hunt with so-called tube traps.

Since 2020, there are now several of these tube traps in the Wiesmet to catch foxes and other predatory game. These traps in the wetland north of the Altmuhlsee are checked daily by hunters who need special training for this job. Hunting dogs also have to pass several exams and are trained for this purpose by the hunters for practical hunting operations.

The dilemma for the animal welfare activists: although the foxes are caught alive in the tube traps, they do not survive in the end: "They are taken away and shot in another place with a handgun.", says Jan Heikens, the LBV’s meadow nesting area warden – and you can hear his regret on the phone.

"This also hurts me as a conservationist"

Protection for meadow breeders: foxes are caught in such tube traps – and then taken away and shot.

"That hurts me as a species conservationist also", he says, but this approach is "the only way to achieve something in the short term to protect the endangered meadow breeders". In contrast to these – or hares, partridges and pheasants, which are also on the menu of Reineke Fuchs, the red fox is not endangered in its population.

On the contrary: "The fox is the big winner of the modern culture landscape, since it has there uncanny many possibilities to hide", says Heikens: "It’s like a land of milk and honey for him," he says." Accordingly, the population of the robber has grown strongly. And meadow breeders such as lapwings and curlews are correspondingly threatened, says Heikens.

In addition to losses due to predators, however, disturbances during the search for breeding sites or during breeding are a major problem for the rare ground-nesting birds. According to the LBV, this can be avoided if dogs in the Wiesmet – and also in other floodplains along the Altmuhl – are kept on a leash or if routes outside the meadow breeding protection area are used.

Free-roaming dogs are also a problem

Especially free-ranging dogs put other animals – such as deer – on the alert and often send them fleeing. However, especially in winter and when spring is slowly approaching, these animals need all their energy to raise their young.

Therefore, conservationists and hunters ask all walkers: please stay on the trails with your dogs and, if possible, use other routes for your walks between March and August.

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