The Association for the Protection and Preservation of the Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) and the Albanian Society for the Protection of Birds and Mammals (ASPBM) raise the issue for the continuous and escalating violations of the hunting moratorium which has become evident during the last months. The field monitoring groups/teams of these organizations and their network members in different regions of the country have inspected and proved an intensification of the illegal hunting cases, especially during the period November 2015-January 2016.

The two year hunting ban in Albania entered into force in March 2014 as an immediate measure for the protection of the declining wildlife populations in Albania, affected throughout decades by uncontrolled and illegal hunting. As it is foreseen in the respective law, the moratorium will come to an end in 15 March 2016.

These organizations evaluate the overall positive impact that the moratorium has had in reducing hunting during these two last years in Albania, however, they express the concern that during the last months of its implementation, its application has significantly decreased and the situation as monitored in the field seriously affects the success and accomplishment of the objectives of the moratorium.

Even though the moratorium is still in force, illegal hunting and trapping has increased and intensified significantly. From the field observations it is observed that illegal hunting is practiced mainly over weekends (especially on Sundays) and the first hours of the morning and during the night. This is the time when law enforcement authorities do not have enough surveillance over the territory, which is best used by poachers. The illegal hunting is evidenced throughout the country, even inside protected areas, be those lowland wetlands or mountain ecosystems. Even protected and endangered species in the Red List of fauna in Albania are heavily hunted, such as, birds of prey, roe deer, wolf, wild boar, etc.

Only during the last two months 1507 cases of illegal hunting have been evidenced and documented by these organizations and it is expected that these cases will dramatically increase in the coming period, especially because of decrease of temperatures that will cause the gathering of large groups of winter birds in the wetland areas.

The most problematic areas are the coastline wetlands such as the Patoku Lagoon in Lezha district, the Fllaka wetland nearby Durresi, the Viluni Lagoon in Shkodra district, wetland areas Vjosa-Narta in the Vlora region, etc., where just during the last weeks the hunters’ area has doubled. The same problematic situation is present in mountainous areas as well, especially in the Puke-Mirdite region, in the Korca region, in the Tropoja region,etc.

As a result, PPNEA and ASPBM call upon all the law enforcement authorities in the country, especially the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Internal Affairs to take immediate measures for controlling this surge in illegal hunting and protect endangered populations of wildlife in Albania as the moratorium predicts.