In a controversial move, the environment ministry will soon give permission to state governments to hunt animals in high human-animal conflict zones.
Under the procedure, the ministry would notify a particular animal as vermin (nuisance animal) based on the recommendations of the state government. Once notified, the states would be free to hunt these animals for a limited period of time.
“In areas where farmers are facing huge problems due to animals, there is a procedure to declare them as 'vermin' like blue bull and wild boar for a particular period of time. We will give them (states) permission to declare such animals as vermin,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The minister clarified that it was not an unusual move as there was provision to declare wild animals listed in various Schedules of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972 as vermin and it has been done in the past also.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PETA) described the government’s move as contrary to the Wildlife Protection Act and said ecological balance cannot be restored through barrel of gun.
“The wild animals you see in your backyard aren’t trespassing—it was their home first, before humans encroached. Humans increasingly move into animals’ habitats and take away their food and other sources," said Manilal Valliyate, director of veterianary affairs at PETA.
Human-animal conflict has been rising across wildlife areas including tiger and elephant habitats in the country as rapid development in the last two decades have cut off green corridors linking a habitat with another. These corridors help in free movement of animals from one habitat to another when their population density increased.
The state forest departments in the past had killed or relocated tigers terming them as man-eaters. Recently a tiger from Ranthambore tiger reserve was relocated to a zoo as he had allegedly killed a forest guard.
Officials said that states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are some which want to declare some animals as vermin.