For the first time in Romania, conservationists and hunters are working together to protect a threatened species: the Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis).
At the request of the Romanian Ornithological Society (SOR, BirdLife Romania), the National Association of Romanian Hunters (AGVPS, the FACE partner in Romania) have agreed to a temporary hunting ban in one of the most important Special Protected Areas (SPAs) for the Red-breasted Geese - Lake Balta Alba in Buzau County.
The Red-breasted Goose is the smallest goose species in the world. It nests in Siberia and when it migrates, it travels 9.000 km to its wintering grounds in Romania and Bulgaria. Hunting, illegal killing, loss of feeding sites and displacement by windfarms in their wintering grounds are major threats that have led to a continuing decline in the species’ population.
“We monitored this area with our partners and we found that the geese began wintering in October. We saw 1.260 birds on 30 October... By the end of November, we had approximately 10.000 individuals, which is 20% of the global population,” said Emil Todorov, project officer of SOR.
To make matters worse, Red-breasted Goose flocks mix with other geese species, such as the Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), which are allowed to be hunted. This increases the risk of Red-breasted Geese being accidentally shot, especially in the morning when the whole flock takes off together from their roosting place.