Several Latvian game species, whose hunting intensity and local environmental conditions are fully conducive to population recovery or even an increase, are listed as protected species at the European or global level. The protection of these species is governed by international conventions ratified by Latvia and by legislation of European Union (EU) countries.
However, these international documents allow for local derogations from the general requirements, as long as they are justified by specific data being collected on a regular basis. The objective of monitoring species in the EU domain is to systematically obtain data on the status of population of internationally threatened but locally widespread species in relation to acceptable exploitation rates and practices, i.e. to determine whether population of these species are successfully recovering under existing hunting intensity.
LVMI “Silava” has been monitoring the large carnivores and studying the hunted animals since 2004 with funding from the Hunting Sector Development Fund (MSAF) of the Ministry of Agriculture. The State Forest Service assesses the large carnivore population annually in accordance with the methodology approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and determines the carnivore hunting quota, as well as collects information on hunted carnivores and the damage they cause to livestock.
In order to determine the permissible level of hunting of large carnivores, the legislation regulating hunting requests using recommendations of conservation plans for these species and the results of monitoring. Monitoring includes regular studies of the status of carnivore population. Since 2018 the State Forest Service has been involving hunting permit users and other interested parties in data collection on signs of the presence of large carnivores (e.g. footprints, excrements, remains of animals, etc.).
Data on signs of large carnivores so far can only indicate the habitat of these species, not of the number of individuals in packs. The work is still in progress with scientists involved to ensure that these data can be used to estimate the number of carnivores. Accurate records of carnivores is a very labour-intensive and costly process, which is only worthwhile in protected areas for scientific purposes. In the long term, the status of a managed carnivore population and its trends are well represented by data from hunted individuals. The State Forest Service in cooperation with LVMI “Silava” implemented the procedure for hunters to follow after wolf hunting in order to study the wolf population in Latvia and to fulfil our international obligations regarding wolf protection and provide data for carnivore monitoring.
Number of wolves killed in the 2022/2023 hunting season as of 08.02.2023 – 295
Number of wolves killed in the 2020/2021 hunting season as of 05.03.2021 – 281 (season closed)
Number of lynx killed in the 2020/2021 hunting season as of 31.03.2021 – 77 (season closed)
Number of wolves killed in the 2019/2020 hunting season as of 15.03.2020 – 280 (season closed)
Number of lynx killed in the 2019/2020 hunting season as of 31.03.2020 – 71 (season closed)