2016-10-15 18:55:00

Hungary anti-migration fence destroying wildlife

(Vatican Radio) With several European countries building fences to stop migrants fleeing war and poverty, Croatian animal activists have now raised the alarm about the impact on migratory wildlife: They say Hungary's recently built razor-wire border fence is an ecological disaster threatening thousands of deer and other wild animals as winter sets in. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:

Hungary's anti-migration government has denied wrongdoing, but Croatian environmental experts say the structure is blocking the natural migratory patterns of thousands of deer and other wild animals. Large herds of red deer used to roam freely across the Croatia-Hungary border, their numbers steadily expanding in this wildlife-rich corner of Europe. 

But protection activists and hunters in Croatia now warn the numbers have begun declining since the border fence went up last year. Initially deer would get tangled in the wire and killed, but animals soon began recognizing the danger.

Yet the Croatian Society for Bird and Nature protection warns that the fence will once again become a major problem in the winter, when food sources for the deer become scarce. In a statement a spokesperson warns that as "they will be prevented from going to the larger area where there is still some food left, they are likely to grow weak and die."

Female deer typically travel together in herds while bucks stay with a herd only during the breeding season. But experts say this year the bucks'  access to females was blocked. Croatian environmentalists claim the negative trends for wildlife can be reversed only if the fence is removed.


Hungary's right-wing govermment has rejected the concerns. It says that animals adapt well to man-made habitat changes. The statement also noted that deer populations had been growing for decades in Hungary and across Europe, causing crop damage and road accidents.

And, Budapest says, during the decades of the Iron Curtain, which separated the West from Communist-run Eastern Europe, "the scarce presence of people and limited human disturbance allowed wildlife to flourish in the border area."

And the government says that if the "illegal presence" of humans could be controlled near the new border fence, accidents suffered by big game would also cease.

However activists opposing the fence say the painful death of animals is another proof that Hungary's anti-migration fence is not a solution to completely halt migration.

It also comes after the government acknowledged that thousands of migrants managed to cross through border fences along its southern border fences with Serbia and Croatia this year, and activists said many people were injured while trying to cross into Hungary on their way towards more welcoming Western countries. 

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