Albania announced recently a ban of all hunting for two years to protect animals threatened with extinction. Minister of Environment Lefter Koka said the ban was necessary to protect species whose numbers had fallen dramatically after two decades of rampant hunting. According to the Ministry, brown bears and eagles are now seriously endangered even in the mountainous areas of Albania. The number of pheasants and wild quail have also fallen dramatically.
The ban will be introduced in February. The new law suspends all hunting licenses and use of hunting areas. The government will use this hiatus to study ways to reform conservation regulations and bring control to what had become almost complete lawlessness.
Every year, thousands of hunters have travelled to Albania, attracted by the hitherto very lax restrictions. These hunters, together with many of the local hunters, have long been happy to shoot pretty much anything that came within range – even in the national parks. Targets have not been just the normal game species but also eagles and other raptors, cranes, shorebirds, and even small songbirds. The police estimates there about 75,000 hunting rifles are registered in this Balkan country of three million, but the number of unregistered guns is thought to be significantly higher.