Despite previous pressure from the European Union, Estonia has kept the right to hunt lynx and bear - carnivores listed in the Bern Convention.
The Estonian delegation reached preliminary agreements with the EU on hunting lynxes and bears Dec. 9 along with a number of other nature-related topics including Baltic herring and dioxin levels in fish.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the preliminary agreement with the EU provides for the hunting of lynx for five years after EU accession. If the population of these animals decreases after five years, the EU might reconsider the lynx policy.
The bear population can be regulated in accordance with a special administrative plan that Estonian experts will prepare annually.
From the very beginning of its EU accession drive Estonia had a different point of view on certain species of carnivores, particularly wolves and lynxes. Estonian officials wanted to have an option to regulate these carnivore populations in spite of the total protection policy implemented in EU countries for these animals.
According to the Estonian Ministry of Environmental Affairs, there were from 900 to 1,000 lynxes, 800 bears and 500 to 700 wolves in Estonia in 1995, whereas the optimal number of these animals should be much lower (400 bears, 300 to 400 lynxes and 30 to 40 wolves).
The European population of Eurasian lynx, the third largest predator on the continent, is estimated at about 7,000, according to the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a network promoting the peaceful co-existence of brown bears, lynxes, wolves and wolverines with human societies.