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HUNTING

Night vision guns pushed for culling Swiss boar

A debate is under way among hunters and animal rights groups in Switzerland over the controversial use of night vision guns to shoot wild boar.

Night vision guns pushed for culling Swiss boar
Photo: Richard Bartz

Such paramilitary equipment is already allowed for wildlife hunting in the cantons of Geneva, Basel Country and Thurgau.

But some hunters believe they should be banned for ethical reasons, Swiss media are reporting.

Night sighting devices allow for precise shooting in the dark.

The population of wild boar has been reportedly rising in Switzerland, resulting in extensive damage to agricultural crops in many parts of the country.

But traditional hunters believe using night vision devices is unsporting and could open the door to the use of other military weapons on wildlife.

Using prohibited military equipment on wildlife is “not good for the image” of hunting, federal hunting inspector Reinhard Schnidrig told Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Night vision guns were designed as weapons and remain regulated under the Swiss arms act, Schnidrig said.

Christian Jacques, president of Jagd Zürich, a Zurich hunting group, said improving the efficiency of hunters to reduce the “inventory” of wild nuisance animals does not justify the means, Blick reported online.

“Hunters are not a form of pest control,” he added.

But the use of night vision guns has gained support from Swiss animal protection groups and some hunters who say it is more humane.

“Hunters do better and the animal has to suffer less,” Thurgau hunting administrator Roman Kistler told SRF Radio.

Proponents note that technology has already changed hunting in other ways, with gun scopes, controversial 20 or 30 years ago, now wildly accepted.

In the canton of Zurich, parliament in March voted to approve the use of night vision equipment for hunting, while a move is afoot to also legalize it in the canton of Saint Gallen.
 

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ANIMAL

Brown bear strolls across Swiss ski slope

Workers at the Engelberg Titlis ski area in central Switzerland witnessed a highly unusual spectacle on Monday morning when a brown bear passed close by.

Brown bear strolls across Swiss ski slope
Bears made a return to Switzerland in 2005 after being absent from the country for over a century. Photo: Nidwalden Police

“The bear was about 100 metres away and stayed in the distance,” Peter Christen, who works on the Gerschnialp ski lift, told regional daily the Nidwalder Zeitung.

“I wasn’t scared: it was more like he was scared of us,” he said.

Read also: Stoat named Switzerland's animal of the year in 2018

Christen and a coworker were collecting poles from the beginners’ ski slope on Gerschnialp when the animal emerged from the forest. “He walked straight over the piste and went back into the woods. We stayed very quiet and watched him,” he told the paper.

“People I know and my colleagues thought I was joking at first when I said I had seen him,” the ski lift worker added.

Authorities believe the bear spotted on Monday is probably an animal known as M29, seen last year in the cantons of Bern and Uri and spotted last week in the area of the Susten Pass that links those two cantons.

M29 is thought to have migrated to Switzerland from Italy in 2016. Photo: Hunting inspectorate of canton Bern

They now believe the bear could now be in the Melch valley in the canton of Obwalden after a forest worker came across his tracks on Tuesday morning.

M29 is thought to have been born in Italy in winter 2013 before migrating to Switzerland in April 2016.

The head of hunting and fisheries for the canton of Nidwalden, Fabian Bieri, said the animal had probably hibernated in the Susten Pass area and was now likely to be on the search for food.

He said M29 was predominantly vegetarian and posed little danger to people or other animals. Bears are only dangerous when they feel cornered or when they are protecting their young, Bieri explained.

“People who are out walking now don’t need to be afraid. Bears hear and smell us long before we see them,” he said. 

But he did advise people not to actively look for bears, saying the animals were best left well alone.

Bears made a return to Switzerland in 2005 after being absent from the country for over a century. M29's appearance in Bern last year was the first time a wild bear had been spotted in the canton in 190 years.