02/08/11 Preventing the Expansion of Hunting Grounds to Outskirts of Zagreb

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Zagreb City Assembly
c/o Mr Boris Sprem, President
Sv. Cirila i Metoda 5
10000 Zagreb

February 8, 2011

Subject: Preventing the expansion of hunting grounds to outskirts of Zagreb

Dear Mr. Sprem:

Prompted by the information from the media and dozens of E-mails and phone calls we have received in just a few days, we wish to bring to your attention that the Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management has issued consent to Hunting society Sokol from Stupnik to expand the hunting grounds towards the center of Zagreb (just within reach of the neighborhood of Laniste and Arena Sports Center), which should be decided on by the end of February by Zagreb City Assembly which you preside over.

We consider, as well as the citizens who have turned to us, that the potential expansion of hunting grounds is solely in the interest of the hunters, and at the expense of all other citizens of this city who will be put in a situation to meet armed people hunting within reach of their houses and neighborhoods. That way poeple (most often entire families) will, in this time of economic crisis, be denied even the cheapest and most efficient method of recreation and maintaining a healthy way of life, and their lives will be in danger.

We claim that the increase in the number of foxes as a would be reason to expand the hunting grounds is not a problem realistic enough to justify the request to move the hunting grounds towards the center of Zagreb. There is no real danger to the citizens from the animals which occasionally come into town. We are well acquainted with the work of the municipal body of the Shelter for abandoned animals in Dumovec, and their annual reports on their work confirm that their employees promtly and successfully gather and legally take care of wild animals, making the whole community, and even the country, proud. What is more, through a long period there have been no alarming events which would justify expanding the hunting grounds, especially as far as the settlements themselves.

Contrary to the claims of the hunting societies, we think that hunting grounds should be reduced. Foxes are predators which have a role in the habitat and maintain the natural balance by feeding on birds and rodents and avoiding people. The justification for hunting them goes no further than speculation that there is danger to the people, which has become an excuse for hunters to hunt many species of animals. By expanding city limits we have already reduced natural habitats and limit areas for birds and small animals. It would definitely be beneficial to the citizens of this city to preserve the natural oasis.

In the media we often hear about tragic incidents where hunters have accidentally killed each other or shot at companion animals in hunting grounds or outside of them, which has exceeded legal limits a long time ago. By carrying weapons outside of the limits of the hunting grounds, often without the protective sheath, hunters put other citizens, and especially children, in danger during their outdoors activities. It is hard to explain the dangers of playing and hiding to children, which is always very attractive to them in places where they can freely spend time outdoors without the dangers of traffic or disturbing other citizens. Hunting grounds at the outskirts of settlements also limits dog owners who spend quality time with their pets walking in all peripheral regions of the city, looking forward through the entire working week to those 'five minutes' of peace and rest. In this way the accessibility of the natural environment would be disturbed for this group of citizens, who have already had hunters fire at their pets although their owners are close, by kiling dogs or seriously wounding them without sanction and putting human lives in danger.

We ask you to preserve these peripheral regions of the city for our children, us and our pets, because it has always made the green city of Zagreb proud, as it has been known even beyond the borders of Croatia. It would truly be disgraceful to have shots from rifles heard in a metropolis like Zagreb, with citizens fearing for their lives, the lives of their children and the animals they responsibly take care of. Therefor we ask you not to approve the expanding of hunting grounds towards the center of Zagreb.

Best regards,
Luka Oman

President of Animal Friends

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