Latvia hunters celebrate EU turnaround on lynx ban
Latvian hunters won the right to carry on shooting lynx yesterday when the European Union decided a total ban on hunting the wild cats was not a necessary condition of membership.
The EU had originally demanded that lynx hunting should be outlawed once the small Baltic state joined the bloc. Latvia is among 10 mostly east European countries which aim to wrap up accession talks at an EU summit in Copenhagen later this week.
"We have now received oral confirmation that we will get permission to hunt a limited number of lynx," Janis Ozolins, the deputy head of game at Latvia's State Forest Service, told Reuters. "This is good for sentiment towards the EU."
Latvians do not hunt specifically for lynx - a shy cat the size of a medium-sized dog - but hunters shoot them if they come across them in order to protect other game such as deer. "Lynx hunting is an ancient practice," Ozolins said. "It is a prized hunting trophy."
Ozolins added that the deal would allow Latvia to hunt up to 50 lynx a year of a total population of some 650 animals.