After the European Union has suppressed the killing of endangered or threatened species in Italy, Italian hunters have started to pay up to €100,000 for trips to countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia, where they can shoot birds without being regulated.
Albania was also part of this list until 2014, when the country’s ruling coalition became the first national government to completely forbid hunting. The reasons behind this decision vary depending on whom you ask, but the most popular are the economic necessity and the desire to protect the country’s fauna.
The history behind this sport is not lacking complexity in Albania. Between 1941 and 1985, gun ownership was strictly controlled and only dictator Enver Hoxha and his companions were privileged enough to shoot one. In the post-Communist years hunting was extremely popular, especially among the elites, and the unregulated activity is threatening – in recent years – the country’s bird and animal life.
The hunting ban which was enforced starting with March 2014 is about to come to an end now, despite of environmental groups fighting for it to be extended for five more years.
The reasons why the situation has reached this point is the fact that even if the measure was efficient in the first year, with time authorities have lost control and the situation is – according to Aleksandër Trajçe, a wildlife researcher at PPNEA, in an article in Quartz magazine – “back to being as bad as it ever was, perhaps worse.” He continues, “Hunting has become a form of dissent, a way of people showing their dissatisfaction with the government.”
What Trajçe proposes is a complete rebuilding of Albania’s Inspectorate of the Environment and Forests, which could effectively regulate hunting once the ban is lifted.