Hunters were the "first environmentalists".


Various associations have been sparked into responding to recent government regulations, saying that they are an attack on their rights. Among these regulations are the bullfighting legislation; the banning of horses from the dunes system at Sa Canova in Arta; and the increasing in size of zones for bird protection (ZEPA).

Pedro Bestard, president of the Balearic Hunting Federation, explained this during the first meeting last week of the different associations which are affected. There is a plan, therefore, to create a platform in defence of the "rural world". This lobby group will challenge environmental and agricultural policies being pursued by the regional environment ministry. It also intends staging protests as from next month.

Around fifty people attended the meeting, which was held at Palma Arena. They included hunters, horseriders, livestock breeders, supporters of cock fights and bullfighting. Bestard rejected the recent legislation governing bullfights, saying that it prohibits deeply rooted traditions.

The amplification of the ZEPA zones has angered hunters and also farmers in Majorca. Bestard maintains that hunters were the "first environmentalists" but that no one gives them credit for what they do. "The policies are cutting the ground from under our feet. It's time to say enough."

The farmers' business association Asaja has not joined the group but some independent farmers have. Meanwhile, the association of horseriders in defence of rural and public ways has reiterated its opposition to the ban on horses and bikes in the Sa Canova dunes. This association planned a protest for the end of July outside the government's headquarters. With the rural defence group being put together, this protest is to be delayed until September.

Bestard states that a series of joint protest actions will be set out and that the group will be a single voice in dealing with the government.


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