Background

Best LIFE Nature/Information projects 2015: Nordic hunters turning the tide of alien predator invasions

During the Green Week 2015 held in Brussels from 3rd to 5th of June, several LIFE projects were rewarded for their successful work and achievements on a wide range of nature conservation and environmental issues.

Amongst the other awards, the Nordic hunters and their LIFE+ project “Management of the invasive Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in the north-European countries” – MIRDINEC was publically recognised as one best-practice example.

The raccoon dog is an Invasive Alien Species (IAS), native to eastern Asia and introduced as a fur game species to the western parts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s-1950s. While causing a lot of ecological damages to native fauna (http://www.europe-aliens.org/speciesTheWorst.do), the raccoon dog is also one of the most important vectors of rabies in Europe and an important vector of the fox tapeworm. Urgent action was deemed necessary to prevent a population explosion in Scandinavia.

The MIRDINEC project is one of the good examples where Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have worked together to prevent and contain the spread of an IAS. It is particularly commendable that Norway, despite having only occasional Raccoon dogs has seen the benefit of contributing to the project through co-funding.

Too few hunters’ associations have benefitted from LIFE+ funding, and the Raccoon dog project should be a model for others to follow. Since the project began in 2010, no Raccoon dogs have been confirmed outside the area where they were present before the project started. Furthermore, the predicted population increase within the study area has been avoided, with no increase detected. Thanks to additional research, advances have been made in understanding the biology of the Raccoon dog, in particularly the dispersal during different times of year and between sexes.

The project also developed new techniques which can be put to use in other regions based on the following actions conducted:

  • monitoring presence of raccoon by IR cameras (with scent lures) and winter tracking;
  • capturing animals using traps or dogs;
  • sterilization, ear-tagging and radio-tagging (GPS/satellite) of captured individuals;
  • monitoring movements of radio-tagged raccoon dogs in order to use them as “Judas animals” (facilitating detection of non-tagged individuals);
  • control of unmarked animals detected by Judas animal;
  • education and training of local communities, hunters, ornithologists and nature conservationists on species recognition, tracking, hunting and trapping;
  • information to the general public through media for encouraging the reporting of raccoon sightings.

 

The project was coordinated by the Swedish Hunters’ Association and was a cooperative effort between with the associated beneficiaries: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Danish Nature Agency, the Finnish Wildlife Agency and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The LIFE+ project was funded through LIFE+ and co-funded mainly by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.

Supporting organizations included: the Swedish National Veterinary Institute, the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, the Swedish County Boards in the counties of Västerbotten, Norrbotten and Skåne, Danish Hunters’ Association and FACE.

While currently facing the implementation of the new “EU regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species” and the development of a IAS list of EU concerns, it is important for European hunters to demonstrate the opportunities and contributions they can provide for tackling the issues related to IAS populations.

Contact details:

Project Leaders: Fredrik Dahl, P-A Åhlén

Tel: +46 703230904, +46 703765963

Email: fredrik.dahl@jagareforbundet.se, Per-Arne.Ahlen@jagareforbundet.se

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/project/Projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.dspPage&n_proj_id=3784&docType=pdf

http://jagareforbundet.se/Global/Mardhundsprojektet/Dokument/MIRDINEC%20Final%20report.pdf