Complaint about woodpecker cull decision - given suspensive effect

Update 28/11-2019

Vefsn municipality has now issued a so-called administrative decision with immediate effect on the Environmental Protection Association's complaint about the decision to fell woodpeckers at Elsfjord church.

Administrative decision no: 51/19.
The councilor v/head of agriculture has made the following decision:
Complaints about felling permits for woodpeckers in Elsfjord were given permanent effect. Felling attempts were not implemented.
Vefsn municipality received complaints from the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association, NOHA-for animal rights and Christina Fjeldavli. In parallel with complaints, the church guardian received an inquiry from NOF department Rana v/Jan Sande who wanted to start a project called "Operation Svartspett". Both the municipality and Vefsn church joint council v/Ernst Hegdal were keen to cooperate with NOF department Rana v/Jan Sande before any new damage reduction attempt is considered.

Here is the story as it was originally published:
Vefsn municipality has in its decision dated 11.10.2019 with case no. 19/2280-4 made a decision on a felling permit for protected woodpeckers. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association has now lodged a complaint with Vefsn municipality to the county governor.

Old nest holes by black woodpeckers are highly sought after and are used for nesting by she-ducks, barn owls, hawk owls, barn owls, wood pigeons and terns. Killing this black woodpecker can therefore also be thought to be at the expense of other protected species, such as e.g. owls.

From "Regulations on the felling of harmful game, General about the regulations section II B, C and D" is quoted:

2. In which more closely defined area the felling permit is valid
The permission to fell harmful game basically applies to the applicant's own property. However, the felling permit should be limited to the locality where damage actually occurs. If the permit applies to a delimited area with several landowners, all affected landowners must give consent to felling on their part of the area.”

Vefsn municipality has not provided documentation that the land owner(s) in the area have given their written acceptance in advance of the decision that damage reduction can be carried out on their property(s). Before the municipality can make a decision on cancellation of damages, written acceptance must be obtained in advance from the affected landowners. As the landowner's acceptance has not been obtained in advance of the decision, the decision must be considered invalid, and must therefore be revoked.

In the felling permit from Vefsn municipality, there is no specified area where the felling permit is valid. Vefsn municipality has therefore in principle given permission to kill the woodpecker also on the properties of landowners who may not want this type of hunting to take place on their properties. The landowners' rights must be respected, and it is therefore inappropriate and illegal that Vefsn municipality has not limited the permission to specify which properties where such hunting can be permitted.

There are three reasons why some woodpeckers go loose on older buildings. Either they look for food in rotten wood, or they build a home, or the birds mark territories. The black woodpecker feeds on various arboreal insects, such as stick ants, larvae, pupae and adults of tree beetles and bark beetles. The fact that the woodpecker shows an interest in the church building may indicate that this wooden church has also got quite a few other tree-dwelling residents, and that the woodpecker gets access to nutrients by eating pests from the church. Instead of killing the woodpecker, which is perhaps a messenger that the materials in the church are beginning to be eaten away, Vefsn municipality should consider investigating whether the church is beginning to be in poor condition. Materials in the church that are in such bad condition that they contain ground and other woodpecker food should be considered for replacement.


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