STA, 30 November 2018 - Slovenian hunters are getting older and their organisation is struggling with declining membership, which is just one of the challenges. They also oppose culling plans that they have no say in.
The Hunters' Association (Lovske zveze Slovenije) argues that the deer culling plan imposed by the Agriculture Ministry is excessive considering the size of the deer population.
The association has told the STA their members are not in a position to realise the planned culling, but that they face high fines, from EUR 4,100 up per a hunting club, if they do not.
Hunters took 8,229 red deer and 41,869 roe deer from nature last year, which includes large numbers that perished due to extremely low winter temperatures.
Under the plan, hunters should have killed almost 5,000 red deer and 39,986 roe deer.
Despite the large numbers of deer and wild boars lost in last year's winter kill, the Hunters' Association says they have been instructed to implement the culling plan for this year in full.
"We cannot agree with a plan that doesn't take into account the projected deer population trends, but only by the damage done to trees by game."
Average age of hunters is now over 56
The Hunters' Association, counting 22,000 members, is worried about dwindling membership numbers. They have also had to withdraw more than 200 hunting licences for various reasons this year.
The average age of hunters is quite high, standing at over 56 at the end of 2017.
Membership is a key source of income for hunting clubs but an important source of income is hunting tourism although the clubs managing hunting grounds pay a concession fee to the state.
Foreign game hunters coming to Slovenia are interested mainly in chamois and bear, but they also hunt other large game.
Hunting tourism is the principal activity of special-purpose hunting reserves. Out of 408 hunting reserves in the country, 12 are special purpose.
Ten of these are managed by the Slovenia Forest Service (SFS) and one by the Triglav National Park, while hunting clubs are responsible for sustainable game management.
Hunting tourism is available to guests from Slovenia and abroad. The guests who are not hunters need to be accompanied by a hunter with a valid hunter's licence.
It costs between €600 and 6,500 to kill a bear in Slovenia
Apart from domestic guests, it is Austrians, Germans and Italians who come to hunt in Slovenia most often.
Ljubljanski Vrh, one of the ten reserves managed by the SFS, hosted 1,900 guest hunters last year, some of them several times.
The Forest Service made over EUR 1m from hunting tourism last year.
The guest hunter will pay between 600 and 6,500 euro for killing a bear plus a daily hunting fee. A red deer trophy comes at between 215 and 5,500 euro and a roe deer trophy between 50 and 400 euro.