Raja Syed Rather
Ganderbal, Jan 11: The Department of Wildlife Protection J&K has warned of strict action as per law involving imprisonment as well as a fine against anyone involved in capturing owls or any kind of hunting activity.
The notice in this regard came following the reports of several incidents of alleged capturing of owls from some parts of the valley over the past month.
After a few photographs of the owl species, especially the Barn Owl and Tawny Owl, being captured surfaced on social media, the wildlife department issued a notice warning that capturing, coursing, snaring, trapping, driving or baiting of any wild animal, including wild birds, comes under the definition of “hunting” which is a punishable wildlife offence under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“A person committing such an offence “shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to 20,000 rupees or both”, the department warned.
Why do people catch owls?
Dr Bilal Nasir Zargar, a wildlife biologist, said “There is a myth in Kashmir that keeping an owl’s nails wards off evil. People catch them and cut their nails off and they eventually die, due to which the population of owls has declined drastically.”
Owls play a very important role in controlling the rodent population. They are phenomenal in pest control and help maintain the food chain. Owls also get rid of diseased rodents and stop the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Dr Bilal said the warning by the wildlife protection department is not enough because there are some species of owls out there that are threatened at this point in time and they may not be able to survive for much longer due to hunting or their habitat being destroyed.
“As a result of this, they are struggling to be able to survive out there in the wild. It isn’t too late though to help these owl species to have a future. However, in order to happen, we need to acknowledge what the problems really are, then we can be a part of the solution and not the problem,” he said.