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‘Needy’ farmers to get hunting permits in Punjab 

Sources said the state government has allowed short-term permits to aggrieved farmers — not to the hunters or others — as was the case earlier.

CHANDIGARH:  An improved wildlife habitat due to better management of the forest areas in Punjab over the years has led to an improvement in the herbivore population. The abundant prey base has attracted leopards from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.

However, it has also caught the fancy of hunters legal and illegal.

Two leopards and a barking deer were recently illegally hunted by professional hunters under the guise of limited hunting permits to farmers which were issued by the state government for shooting wild boar and nilgai (blue bull) “in the farmer’s fields” as these animals damage crops.

Sources said the state government has allowed short-term permits to aggrieved farmers — not to the hunters or others — as was the case earlier. The hunted animal will be the property of the state government unlike previously when hunters would take away the animal.

Also, only a .315 bore gun is now allowed to hunt and not the most common .12 bore that sometimes does not kill but only results in grievous injuries to the animal, leading to a painful death. The aim now is that if the animal causing damage to life and property needs to be killed, it should be killed in a single shot.

Sources said in the last meeting of the Punjab State Wildlife Board, headed by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, the board was informed that the divisional forest officers (DFOs) and sub-divisional officers (civil) were authorized by various notifications to issue permits for the limited hunting of wild animals in the state to prevent massive damage to crops. This limited hunting permit is applicable for the entire state except for Abohar and Fazilka.

The forest and wildlife department has taken note of illegal hunting being resorted to under the pretext of permits. Two such cases have come to light in the Ropar wildlife division where poachers killed two leopards by gunshots even though the hunters did not have any land in the vicinity where the animals were killed.

In another case, a barking deer and a wild boar were hunted inside the forest area. The board in the meeting cleared the proposed conditions that the permit for limited hunting should be given only to the aggrieved farmer suffering loss of crops, and not to an individual or a professional hunter.

Sources said that the conditions for hunting permits at Air Force stations to prevent damage to aircraft, equipment and employees of the Air Force by wild boars and blue bulls remain the same as per the state government notification issued earlier.

PCCF Wildlife, Punjab & Chief Wildlife Warden, Dharminder Sharma said, “The changes made to the conditions were necessitated in order to strike a balance between the welfare of farmers and the need to curb illegal hunting. The changes are also aimed at preventing painful death of the animals.’’

Saving crops from wild animals

  • 350 permits issued by Punjab Wildlife & Forest Department per year in districts bordering Himachal
  • Illegally hunted: Two leopards and a barking deer by professional hunters
  • Permit condition: State govt allows short-term permits to aggrieved farmers whose crops suffer damage. The hunted animal will be govt’s property
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