D.he hobby hunter, whose name does not need to be mentioned here, has leased 420 hectares of hunting grounds from a hunting association in the western Mecklenburg district of Ludwigslust-Parchim: 335 hectares of arable land, 75 hectares of grassland, ten hectares of forest, woodlands and road edges. They belong to several landowners, some of whom cultivate their land themselves. Deer, wild boars and a few hares, in addition to predators such as fox and raccoon dog, regularly appear as standing game, fallow deer and red deer can occasionally be seen as changing game.
This spring, the hunter who is reluctant to hunt and is devoted to nature conservation is angry, even desperate. He did not manage to search 60 hectares of the grassland in his area in time before the first grass cut by two agricultural tenants for young game and ground-breeding birds and to mark their hiding places in the tall grass so that they are not killed. He can only hope that on the remaining 15 hectares of grassland, which according to ecological guidelines may be mowed for the first time at the end of June at the earliest, one or the other young animal or some ground brood have survived.
Short-term first cut of grass
He was notified by the two farmers just a day before the start of the mowing. Too short-term to search the large areas with a dog, to track down the young animals, to carry them out of the danger areas and to put them in a safe place. There was just enough time to “reinforce” some of the areas in a hurry with human smells and dog hair. But that was not enough to induce the doe to lead their fawns out of the grass. On the evening of the mowing day, at least seven fawns were killed by the mowing knives – this corresponds to almost the entire annual kill of nine animals specified by the Lower Hunting Authority for the whole area.
Special circumstances have led to this situation. The short intermediate high with a few good weather days around the turn of the month of May / June prompted the farmers who cultivate grassland to cut the first grass at short notice. In constant fear of the next rain front, at least in northern Germany, almost everyone drove their mowers to their grassland at the same time within two days and let their knives circle. There was little time to notify the responsible hunters or even to order the owner of a drone with a thermal imaging camera. Voluntary helpers are rarely alerted at such short notice to systematically search the areas for fawns, young hares and birds breeding on the ground.
In the 26 years that the sixty-year-old hunter hunted his territory with two holders of inspection certificates, he has never experienced anything like it. The long period of bad weather has caused Ricken in many places to delay the birth of their fawns by about a week, so that this time bottleneck has come about. The farmers can only be reproached if they do not follow the recommendations of farmers ‘and hunting associations: give the hunter at least 24 hours’ notice of the start of mowing, start mowing the areas from the inside and keep a cutting height above the ground of at least 15 to 20 centimeters.
The recommended cutting height is disregarded
During the first spring mowing, which is particularly rich in protein, many farmers do not stick to the recommended cutting height. In order to harvest as much mass as possible, they saber the grass down to the stigma. If it is pressed into bales and covered with plastic sheeting is placed on the edge of the meadow or is immediately driven off, the bare ground is often enough to see and any cover and food is destroyed for a few weeks.
Farmers want to avoid mowing victims, especially if they are hunters themselves. Also out of compassion, many equip their mowers with mechanical rescue equipment, but their effectiveness is limited. Another reason: animal carcasses in the green cuttings spoil the quality of the cattle feed and can cause diseases in the farm animals.