Danish authorities make cheesy attempt to catch raccoon dogs

All methods are on the table for Danish wildlife control in the struggle to control the spread of raccoon dogs in the country’s natural areas.

Danish authorities make cheesy attempt to catch raccoon dogs
A 2011 file photo showing a GPS tracker being attached to a raccoon dog in Denmark. Photo: Flemming Højer / Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Veterinary and Food Administration (VFA) have recently granted permission for cheese to be used as bait to bring the animal, a canid originally native to East Asia, into captivity.

“We’ve discovered that raccoon dogs are very keen on cheese. It is one of the most effective tools we have to be able to trap them, so we can bring down their numbers in the wild,” EPA special consultant Mariann Chriel said.

As well as cheese, hunters have requested to use carcasses of other animals that have been culled or killed by traffic to lure the raccoon dogs.

But authorities have been reluctant to allow this, citing rules regarding the use of animal products.

Permission to use cheese is now being granted to individual applications from hunters, however.

“I don’t think the raccoon dog has specific cheese preferences like the rest of us. I’ve not heard of it, in any case,” Chriel said.

Authorities are, though, discerning about the cheese being used to capture the animals, whose numbers must be controlled to protect Denmark’s ecosystems.

“The key thing is to ensure the cheese cannot transport disease, which would be a problem for agriculture and agricultural export,” Chriel said.

The raccoon dog hunts birds and amphibians and could potentially outcompete native species such as foxes and badgers.

A plan to manage numbers of the animal is expected to be included in parliamentary business later this year.

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Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature

A Danish environmental organization has received a positive political response over a proposal to ensure 30 percent of Denmark be reserved for nature.

Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation (Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, DN) wants the country’s nature to be written into law by way of an obligation to ensure 30 percent of Danish land to be nature reserve by 2031, DR reports.

The proposal was made as government politicians met at Marienborg, the official residence of the prime minister, on Monday for talks on biodiversity.

The concept of such a ‘biodiversity law’, which would place binding targets for Denmark on the area, was initially positively received.

The interest organization for the agriculture sector, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, has said it also supports biodiversity goals, while environment minister Lea Wermelin said she would listen to suggestions regarding both targets and legislation.

“Fundamentally, the biggest task right now is to reverse nature’s decline and ensure that over 2,000 species threatened by extinction get a helping hand and the chance to remain in Denmark,” DN president Maria Reumert Gjerding said to DR.

“So it’s crucial that politicians make commitments to nature targets,” she added.

The Marienborg meeting is the beginning of government work to implement a ‘package’ of laws on nature and biodiversity, which the Social Democratic government promised prior to the June general election.

Wermelin said action must be taken to prevent Denmark from entering a “natural crisis”.

“We are genuinely interested in a new process to form a long-term plan for Denmark’s nature. Although reports paint a bleak picture, they also say it’s possible to set a new, green direction,” she added.

The minister welcomed “specific ideas and wishes” from environmental organizations that could help in making such a plan, DR reports.

Although only 0.4 percent of the area of Denmark is currently wild nature, DN says the target could be reached by buying or renting land from landowners and leaving it to nature, as well as by ensuring a specified amount of agricultural land actively benefits biodiversity.

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