Centre eases process to declare wildlife vermin

Vermin : समाजकंटक, नुकसानकारक आणि अपायकारक प्राणी (उंदीर घुशी इ.), आणि कीटक (गोचिड इ.)

Increasing man-animals conflict that causes damage to crops and other human property has led the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to ask states to send proposals to declare wild animals vermin for specified period in a given area.

Implications:

  • Once declared vermin, that particular species can be hunted or culled without restriction.
  • If implemented, it will apply to wild animals listed in various Schedules of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972, other than Schedule I & Part II of Schedule II that lists most endangered and iconic species like tigers, leopards, and elephants.

MoEFCC has asked states to send proposals to declare wild animals or herds of them as vermin if they have become dangerous to human life or property, or if they have become so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery. While declaring animals as vermin, officials will not have to give any justification to hunt them as is the case with Schedule I animals like tigers and leopards.

Problems associated:

Officials and environmentalists fear that protected species could be hunted in the name of eliminating vermin. They point out it is not easy for field staff to differentiate meat of chital from nilgai’s or wild boar.

Existing legal provisions for objective management of man-animal conflict:

  • Section 11(1)a of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) authorizes chief wildlife warden to permit hunting of any problem wild animal only if it cannot be captured, tranquillized or translocated.
  • For wild animals in Schedule II, III or IV, chief wildlife warden or authorized officers can permit their hunting in a specified area if they have become dangerous to humans or property (including standing crops on any land).
  • Section 62 of Act empowers Centre to declare wild animals other than Schedule I & II to be vermin for specified area and period.
  • To mitigate man-animal conflict outside the protected areas (PAs), the Centre has also sought proposals to grant aid to deal with conflict as part of the annual plan of operations under the centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) for Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH).

The issue has come up amid pressure from politicians who have been raising man-animal conflict in Parliament, specially the problem of crop depredation by wild boars and nilgais.

Sources: The Hindu, TOI.

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