Russia’s hunting industry may be under the gun. According to TV-Novosti, Russian Parliament Member Oleg Mikheyev submitted a draft law for removing game hunting altogether, with an exception for indigenous hunters. MP Mikheyev has long been a critic of Russia’s hunting tradition and denounces the sport as being unnecessarily cruel.
“What many people call hunting now is more of a cruel killing that has nothing in common with the ancient art of fair competition between a man and a beast,” Mikheyev said. The MP also said that punishments for poaching or infractions were too meager to have an impact, and intends to increase the penalties for these offenses.
His sentiments are at odds with Russia’s vocal sportsmen community. The country is well known for its popular wolf hunting, which is often undertaken seated on a horse and with hunting dogs. Dogs are especially prized in Russia, with deerhounds and Siberian wolfhounds used to track down wolves and occasionally Russian spaniels to take birds. A common legend holds that many Russian spaniels descend from the dogs given to Joseph Stalin from Winston Churchill in World War II.
Russia’s eastern region also boasts high brown bear densities, something that tourism companies pride themselves on. Foreigners desiring to hunt in Russia will require a visa from the Russian consulate and sometimes an invitation from a outfitting company. Hunters who want to bring their own weapon into the country can expect a sizable fee and long processing period. However, many Russian hunters advocate their country’s native beauty and diversity of environments.
“When I hunt I feel like I am in sync with nature,” hunter Oleg Ilyinykh told TV-Novosti. “Hunting turned a man into a man. A man is partly a predator, he was created to eat meat. So hunting is his normal function. We have a rule: we eat everything we kill. We don’t exhibit these animals on the walls.”
The draft law will be discussed next Monday by Mikheyev’s Fair Russia Party, where if could advance to the national natural resources committee.