Slim pickings as Israel's hunting season opens

There are both fewer animals to hunt and fewer places in which to hunt them this year.

hunting in israel 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy/NPA)
hunting in israel 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy/NPA)
Israel's hunting season opened this week, but there are both fewer animals to hunt and fewer places in which to hunt them this year. The Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) has, over the years, been reducing the number of hunters, the animals they can hunt and where they may be hunted, Rony Malka, the head of the NPA's law enforcement division, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. At present, hunters can only shoot doves, turtledoves, pheasants, coots, ducks and, occasionally, wild boars. All other animals are prohibited. There are also many areas that are off-limits to hunters, such as parks and nature reserves. Hunters are also not allowed within 500 meters of a settlement or 100 meters of a lone house or cemetery. Malka said there were more than a dozen areas off-limits to hunters. This past off-season, she added, the Parks Authority managed to add another one to that list. "There is an endangered duck, called the white-headed duck [Oxyura leucocephala], which is endangered all over the world, and we got its habitat, Maagarei Hulda near Beit Guvrin, restricted," Malka told the Post. The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee agreed to the change in the hunting laws and prohibited hunting in an area bounded by Highways 1, 40 and 38, just south of Latrun and Modi'in. Two years ago, the NPA had managed to get the partridge and the hare added to the restricted list, Malka said. The porcupine had also been added in the last few years, she added, and gazelles are also off-limits. In addition, according to Malka, there has been a concerted effort to reduce the number of hunters. While hunting is legal, it is allowed only with an appropriate permit. "We haven't issued a new hunting permit to anyone in ten years. We've also reduced the number of hunters from 6,600 to 2,300. If a hunter does not apply to renew his license within a year of its expiration then we revoke it," Malka said. "Because the hunting range in Israel is not that big, we can't have that many hunters. We estimate the habitat can handle about 2,000 hunters," he explained. NPA rangers went out to meet with the hunting groups on Monday, the first day of the season, and were pleased to discover that all permits were in order. Hunting is heavily circumscribed by the law. Hunters can only use a hunting rifle, not an assault rifle or a pistol. One cannot fire from a vehicle or use poison, nets or traps. For all those would-be Robin Hoods out there - using a bow and arrow is prohibited as well. If a citizen spots someone hunting in a prohibited area or causing damage to natural resources, they should contact the NPA at *6911. Israel's hunting season lasts from September 1 to January 31.