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Illegal Hunting in Germany: There May be More Than What Meets the Eye

Illegal hunting in Germany may be a bigger problem than what the numbers suggest.

Around 1,000 cases of illegal hunting in Germany are reported each year. Despite the seemingly low numbers, this is taken seriously by the police because of the threat to safety that poachers may pose. They usually carry illegal firearms with them as they conduct their activities.

Laws do not always prevent poachers from conducting illegal hunting in Germany. They just find ways not to get caught. 

Willi Heimes, a German resident, was feeding his deer in their enclosure late last month. What was supposed to be a normal activity for him turned out to bring him an unpleasant surprise. A trail of blood was nearby in the enclosure. He didn’t have to wonder any longer where it came from because a group of hikers came by after a short while. They told him that there was a carcass near the fence.

The game preserve of Willi Heimes

Upon hearing this, Heimes decided to go to the area and was greeted by a dead roe. He said that “the hind had been shot, gutted and pulled over the fence. They left the noose. The edible innards were gone.”

This experience left Heimes in shock. For 40 years, he has been taking care of red deer in the Bergisches Land region, located not too far from Cologne. There are 38 animals that he currently cares for. 

In those 40 years, he had never seen anything like what happened to the dead roe. He can not comprehend why some individuals would do such a thing. But, he doesn’t mind the economic damage that illegal hunting in Germany brings. He is more concerned about his safety and that of the citizens. An individual carrying a weapon is walking freely on the streets of the country. 

Heimes hopes that the poacher will be caught by the police soon. Criminal investigators dropped by again at his place. The surveillance cameras placed near the enclosure seem to have captured the suspect on the night of the incident. This piece of information can help in the progress of the case.

Illegal Hunting in Germany was Brought Again To Light After an Unfortunate Incident

Late last year, two police officers died an untimely death after being shot on Kreisstrasse 22 in the wee hours of the morning. They were just 24 and 29 years old. 

The two police officers were conducting a routine traffic check when they discovered that the suspects were involved in illegal hunting. Upon seeing this, they radioed other policemen, telling them that they were skeptical of two individuals who had a trunk filled with wild animals. 

However, the situation turned violent afterwards. One of the officers was able to call for help and tell others that the suspects were shooting. But it was too late by then. The female officer was shot once in the head, which ended her life. On the other hand, the male officer was shot four times before meeting the same fate. The male officer did put up a fight, firing his weapon 14 times. There were bullet holes in the vehicle of the suspects, but none hit the suspects themselves.

The suspects accidentally left a trace since a state-issued ID that belonged to one of them was found at the crime scene. This allowed the police to quickly identify and search for them. 

The suspects who shot at the police seem to be involved in illegal hunting in Germany
The two suspects, who are believed to be poachers, were caught soon after the shooting incident

Their manhunt led them to the small town of Sulzbach, which is located around 35 kilometers from where the shooting happened. The police were able to arrest the two suspects there. The suspects did not put up a fight during the arrest and complied with ease. 

Police officers also found many weapons in different apartments in Saarland. A shotgun and a single-shot hunting rifle were among the weapons found, which they highly suspect were the ones used during the shooting incident. 

The German Hunting Association confirms that one of the suspects did not have a valid hunting license. The suspect did try to apply for one, but was rejected by the authorities in Saarland. 

An investigation is being conducted to determine how the suspects were able to acquire all the weapons that they had. They are also trying to figure out if anyone else is involved. However, they believe that the suspects did not have any terrorist or political motives for committing such an act. 

Prosecutor Stefan Orthen said that the suspects seemed to have shot at the policemen in order to hide their illegal meat trade. 

Udo Gehring, the public prosecutor in Kaiserslautern, says that “our idea of Germany does not include someone opening fire on the street with hunting weapons just because they might be caught poaching. That’s what makes this case disturbing.”

Both suspects were issued an arrest warrant for joint homicide and placed in pretrial detention. 

What Exactly is Considered Illegal Hunting or Poaching in Germany? 

Large-scale poaching in Germany is not prevalent. There are many more deer and wild boars legally hunted in the country, going as high as one million and 900,000, respectively. 

However, many hunters believe that the actual number of poaching cases is far greater than what is reported. Many cases of illegal hunting in Germany remain unreported. 

Torsten Reinwald, spokesperson for the German hunting association, says that the activities of teenagers are also considered poaching. Teenagers hold dares among themselves to place traps in the forest in order to catch rabbits. Sometimes, they even shoot at deer using their bows and arrows. These are acts of poaching, but they do not always make the statistics.

Not only that, illegal hunting in Germany also includes instances when a driver hits and kills a wild animal on the road, then claims the body of the dead animal. This type of poaching may be the most common because around 250,000 traffic accidents involving deer occur in the country every year. 

No matter how poaching is done, it is still illegal in Germany. Most offenders do not end up in jail. But those who commit serious crimes can face up to five years in prison. These include hunting during the closed season, hunting to sell meat, or hunting in groups while carrying firearms, which seems to be the case with the two suspects who tried to protect themselves by shooting at the police.

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