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Home / Industry / Wild pigs declared vermin in Uttarakhand for a year

New Delhi: Paving the way to cull wild pigs creating havoc in Uttarakhand, the Union environment ministry has declared them as “vermin" for a year.

Such a move will allow state authorities to carry out an extermination of wild pigs on a large scale without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

“The state of Uttarakhand has reported harm to life and property, including large-scale destruction of agriculture, due to overpopulation of wild pig in areas outside forests. The central government has considered it necessary to balance local population of this species to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and other properties of the state for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forests," said the notification issued by the environment ministry on 3 February.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the central government hereby declares wild pigs to be vermin and to be included in Schedule V of the Act for a period of one year from the date of issue of this notification," the notification accessed by Mint said.

The notification declared the animals to be vermin across 13 districts (71 of 79 sub divisions) of Uttarakhand. The state had made such a demand in July.

The ministry clarified that the inclusion of wild pigs in Schedule V of the Wildlife Protection Act shall not be applicable in the forest areas of Uttarakhand.

Wild pigs are a protected species under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But if any wild animal poses a danger to human life or property (including standing crops on any land), or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, the law allows for it to be hunted.

Using these provisions, any animal listed in Schedule I-IV can be put in Schedule V for a specific period, declaring it as vermin, allowing its killing. Schedule V include animals like the common crow, fruit bats, mice and rats.

Experts, however, have a different take.

“I am shocked at the move to declare wild boar vermin. It is a retrograde measure and will open a can of worms. Yes, damage to crops is a serious concern, but is this the answer? The notification does not specify how the ‘vermin’ will be killed. Shooting? Poisoning? And who will kill? How is it going to be monitored, who will check what is being killed, especially with the proliferation of illegal guns, coupled with acute shortage of forest staff," said Prerna Bindra, a conservationist and a former member of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

“Poaching is depleting wildlife, and is a serious crime. This will only allow it to become easier. Most districts where it has been declared vermin are rich in rare wildlife, including tigers, leopards, bears, musk deer, etc. And I fear they will bear the consequences," she added.

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