Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed into law legislation imposing severe hunting modifications. The law went into effect on April 1, 2018 and provides that:
- No person under the age of 18 may go hunting or participate in hunting trips;
- All training and trialing of dog and falconry will be banned;
- There will be no punishment imposed on individuals who obstruct or sabotage hunting;
- The Minister of the Environment will appoint the President of the Polish Hunters’ Association;
- All gun owners will be required to undergo regular medical tests;
- Land owners will be allowed to make their properties ineligible for hunting;
- No shooting will be allowed to take place with 150 meters of housing (the distance is currently 100 meters);
- Hunting clubs and members will be liable for wildlife damage within their areas.
Many of these restrictions will make it more difficult, more costly and even more dangerous to hunt in Poland. Perhaps the most damaging provision is the one that prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from hunting or participating in hunting trips with others.
By preventing parents, grandparents, families and other mentors from bringing young hunters in the field and teaching them importance of hunting as a management and conservation tool, Poland’s new laws could destroy the future of the hunting heritage in the country.
SCI has no chapter in Poland, but that did not stop SCI from trying to help Poland’s hunters battle against these new laws. Upon learning of the proposed restrictions, SCI’s Department of Hunter Advocacy and European Chapters moved quickly.
SCI reached out personally to every one of SCI’s members in Poland to offer assistance with their battle. SCI’s European leaders contacted their own country and EU representatives, urging them to counsel their Polish counterparts not to adopt such changes.
SCI encouraged all of its European members to write directly to President Duda to tell him not to sign the measures into law. SCI President Babaz wrote directly to the Polish President, calling for a rejection of the new measures.
Unfortunately, SCI was not able to achieve what the Polish Hunting Association and Poland’s hunting community had been unable to do. Despite massive protests by Poland’s hunters, President Duda ignored the compelling arguments against the measures and signed the restrictions into law.
While the story does not end well for Poland’s hunters, there have been a few positive ramifications. SCI made direct connections with several members in Poland that will undoubtedly lead to stronger bonds between SCI and hunters in Poland and to greater SCI activity in Poland in the months to come. SCI will continue to work as a part of a successful effort to overturn these restrictions.