1. bookVolume 14 (2020): Issue 1 (December 2020)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2644-5247
First Published
09 Nov 2012
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English
Open Access

Changes in the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) population in Czechia and their association with legal protection

Published Online: 30 Apr 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 14 (2020) - Issue 1 (December 2020)
Page range: 29 - 44
Received: 21 Oct 2019
Accepted: 02 Nov 2020
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2644-5247
First Published
09 Nov 2012
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English
Abstract

The article deals with trends in the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) population in Czechia and the interplay between legal regulation of hunting and nature protection. In the early 20th century, the eagle-owl population in Bohemia decreased to an estimated 20 nesting pairs, and the population in Moravia and Silesia was subsequently estimated to be similarly low. In previous centuries, eagle-owls had been persecuted as pest animals; additionally, their chicks were picked from nests to be kept by hunters for the eagle-owl lure hunting method (“výrovka” in Czech), where they were used as live bait to attract corvids and birds of prey, which were subsequently killed by shooting. As soon as the state of the eagle-owl population was established in the 1900s, the effort to save the autochthonous eagle-owl population commenced. Nevertheless, when eagle-owls became legally protected from killing in the 1930s, the eagle-owl lure hunting method was not prohibited. The intensified use of this hunting method in the 1950s was accompanied by serious decline in the populations of birds of prey in the Czech countryside, when tens of thousands of Eurasian sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), common buzzards (Buteo buteo) and rough-legged buzzards (B. lagopus) were killed on a yearly basis. The usage of eagle-owl chicks in lure hunting was criticised by ornithologists concerned with the conservation of birds of prey. The eagle-owl thus became a subject of more general debate on the role of predators in nature, and this debate (albeit regarding other predator species) has continued to the present-day. As the eagle-owl population has been growing steadily following the prohibition of its killing in the 1930s, its story may serve as an example of the need for effective legal protection of predators to ensure their survival in the intensively exploited central-European environment. The article examines the successful preserving of the eagle-owl in the Czech countryside, from its low point in the early 20th century towards today’s stable and ever-increasing population, focusing on environmental, conservationist, legal and societal aspects of the issue.

Keywords

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