Hooks used for illgeal hunting in north Israel .
(photo credit: ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
An illegal ring of unusually cruel hunters exploited and killed wild animals in northern Israel, until a group of some 200 police officers put an end to the crime.
The hunters were apprehended in the North on Monday by the Israel Police, rangers from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Border Police.
More than 200 police officers were engaged in the complex effort to hunt the hunters, combining the skills and knowledge of dog handlers, special patrol units, detectives and investigators.
Nineteen allegedly criminal hunters were arrested as officers uncovered bloody knives, slingshots, ammunition and snares. Arrests took place in Haifa, Jish and Hurfeish and in several other northern towns.
A police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
the slingshots were used to stun porcupines. When porcupines are hit by a pellet they freeze, which enables the hunter to approach and kill them.
In an interview with the Post
, a park authority official stated that other hunting methods being used were much more extreme than slingshots.
“They used ATVs to chase gazelles and kill them,” the official explained. “The ATV is not something a gazelle can deal with, because it’s a machine. Even if the gazelle is able to flee the ATV, they are very sensitive creatures and the stress caused from being chased by an ATV and hit with a crowbar usually causes them to die afterwards.”
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The official explained that while some forms of hunting are legal in Israel
, gazelles and porcupines are protected, and their flesh is not offered on the market for human consumption.
In spite of this, Hebrew online forums exist in which people exchange recipes for cooked porcupine and other wild animals.
“The hunters make a living off it,” the official said. “An entire gazelle can fetch up to 1,500 shekels if not more, and a porcupine can fetch around several hundred shekels. These people are robbing natural diversity – which belongs to all of us as Israeli citizens – for their own personal profit, and damaging the land in the process.”
Illegal hunting is widespread across Israel. In order to combat this criminal subculture, the park authority established a new intelligence gathering unit that will work closely with the police to ensure future raids will successfully take illegal hunters off their deadly game.
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