Still considered threatened: the otter. For about two years now, it has been spreading again throughout Bavaria, including in the district of Miesbach. Fishermen and fish farmers are a thorn in the side of the small predator. © Patrick Pleul/DPA
Following a court ruling on the removal of otters in the Upper Palatinate, the Miesbach-Tegernsee District Fishing Association is proposing a regulation on hunting law.
District – The ruling of the Bavarian Administrative Court on the removal of otters in the Upper Palatinate makes the fishermen in the district of Miesbach sit up and take notice. "Of course, we followed it," says Stefan Moser, who represents around 600 members as chairman of the Miesbach-Tegernsee district fishing association. The Administrative Court had ruled that the killing of the animal at Upper Palatinate fish ponds, which was permitted by special permit, violated applicable law – the Bund Naturschutz had sued.
Moser can only partially understand the verdict: "Killing is, of course, always the worst means and should be used last." However, conflicts are inevitable when the otter becomes native to the cultural landscape cultivated by humans. Therefore, it is important to prevent the reintroduction of the animal in advance by appropriate management. "The otter has no place in the cultural landscape," Moser emphasizes.
A viable way to regulate the existing conflict between animal welfare and the fishing industry is through hunting law. This currently provides for year-round protection of the otter. Analogous to the hunting of deer, for example, a time window can be determined in which the otter may be hunted. "Then it would be up to the hunters, who can be trusted because of their expertise and experience," says Moser. Provided that the hunters would be willing to cope with the time required.
An exemption ordinance under species protection law, as recently issued by Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), would then be superfluous. In any case, Moser regards the "Ordinance on the Amendment of the Species Protection Exemption Ordinance concerning Exceptions for the Otter" issued on April 26 only as "election campaign bluster". Regulation on hunting law is more pragmatic.
According to Moser, a stable otter population – a prerequisite for hunting – will soon be achieved: "In our region, the otter is on an excellent path to a stable population." It is now detectable in all flowing waters in the district and also at ponds. The days when he was hunted for his fur are long gone: "Nobody wears a stole made of otter skin anymore."
However, the ruling of the Administrative Court does not (yet) seem to have any influence on the current legal situation in the district of Miesbach, as Leonhard Egg from the specialist advice for fisheries of the district of Upper Bavaria explains: "A distinction must be made between the exemption in the Upper Palatinate and the ordinance issued by the Free State at the end of April." The removal of the otter in the Upper Palatinate was carried out as part of a pilot project that has been running there for some time. The court had assessed this basis as not legally compliant. The new ministerial regulation, on the other hand, was not the subject of the matter and continues to apply. It permits the otter to be removed under strict conditions in order to avert serious damage to the fishing industry.
As reported, an otter had recently eaten the ponds of the Holzkirchner Fishing Association for the rearing of fish. The district fishing association Miesbach-Tegernsee observes that the otter threatens the grayling population in the Leitzach and the Mangfall.