READER’S LETTER: About mange in Estonian forests

Submitted by Looduskalender EN on Fri, 27.01.2017 - 17:49

Estonia’s wildlife is in trouble but helping hands have become few and each new amendment in legal acts concerning the environment instead weakens the support of humans to nature.
Through ages nature has managed to co-exist with humans – a mutually helpful system has evolved.
We keep the abundance of species in balance, in exchange for enjoying the beauty and gifts of nature. But in the 21st century we have begun to segregate the riches of nature. We need the large wild game in the forest but the small game animals and tiny forest inhabitants, beginning with flying squirrels and ending with rare bird species such as for instance the capercaillie, must cope on their own.
There are however those who do not agree with this, and there is an increasing number of people who condemn several legal acts such as the Hunting Act. Which is one of the latest fatal blows to the flying squirrel and the capercaillie. The Hunting Act is so ingenuously worded that on an initial reading it would seem to protect above all the interest of small beings, but on considering more profoundly we realise that under the many-facetted surface of the Act a skilful scheme is hidden for securing the interests of hunters in hunting and to involve primarily only the populations of large game.
The Hunting Act is moreover so skilfully written that surveillance would be nearly impossible, so making in fact uncontrolled big game hunting and tourism enterprises possible.
Poaching that had gone out of control only increased until the moment when Estonia was hit by the African Swine Fever (ASF) which the authors of the Act had not taken in consideration while compiling the Act. Authorities intervened powerfully in the fight against the ASF although with a small delay, and soon learnt from partial mistakes.

But already before the ASF reached Estonia another alarming disease has raged in Estonia which up to now has shown no sign of receding, instead rather expanding its grip on the environment. Mange, has already infected and killed uncounted numbers of both wild animals and dogs and cats in country homes (it has been necessary to put the infected animals ”to sleep” for obvious  reasons). This is the result of the silence of government and hunters.
 But how did mange that has existed in the Estonian forests from the beginning of time, become such a massive disease? Wolves and lynxes already become infected in large numbers and nearly 50% of foxes and raccoon dogs are infected with mange.
The fear of rabies was so great that the decision to eradicate this disease from our wildlife was taken regardless of the consequences that it might create in nature over a longer period.
All knew that in connection with liquidating rabies there would be a steep increase in the populations of foxes and raccoon dogs which in turn might lead to mass outbreaks of other diseases. The hunters at the time assured that they would keep tight reins on the populations of small game and that such a situation would never become a reality in the forests..
Regrettably, it turned out as always: hunters don’t want to deal with small game. As is apparent from literature, hunting as well as census data may well be ”paperwork numbers“.
What will become of the nature of Estonia when we dare not state the truth about what is actually happening in the forests even in press reports ...

Yours faithfully,
Mati Sepp