Nordic hunters turning the tide of alien predator invasions

Invasive Alien Species Management: Conference Report

To mark the end of their LIFE+ project “Management of the invasive Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in the north-European countries” – MIRDINEC (LIFE+/09/NAT/SE/344), the Swedish Hunters’ Association held a conference in Luleå, Sweden 16 - 18 June to present results and gather experts engaged in similar projects across Europe and further afield.

More than most issues, the problem of regulating Invasive Alien Species (IAS) requires a global approach to local problems.  Regions can be both the source and recipient of IAS e.g. Eurasian Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is invasive in North America, while the Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is invasive in Europe. Within Europe we also need to work together to ensure that good work is not put to waste by lack of action in neighbouring areas. 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 no Raccoon dog has seen the benefit of contributing to the project through co-funding.

FACE is very proud of the success of the project. 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 (e.g. 24-hour telephone hotlines, motion cameras, “Judas” animals).

You may ask why hunters are so interested in stopping the spread of Raccoon dog, as in Northern Sweden it poses little threat to any hunting interests. It could however threaten some rare amphibians such as the Fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) in the Southern Sweden, and nesting colonies of waterbirds. The concern of hunters is for wildlife in general, not only the game species which they hunt.

FACE’s Wildlife Policy Manager, Cy Griffin gave a short presentation at the conference on the role of stakeholders in managing IAS, and the importance of clear communications to unite the public to take quick action when and where it is needed, without any unnecessary hindrance. 

A collaborative approach 

The project was coordinated by the Swedish Hunters’ Association. The project is a cooperative effort between this FACE Member and the associated beneficiaries; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Danish Forest and Nature Agency and the Hunters´ Central Organization in Finland. The LIFE+ project is funded through LIFE+ and co-funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.

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

More information available on the Swedish Hunters’ Association website: 

Photo: Hannu Huttu, Finland