MINISTER FOR Forests and Rural Development, Rui Nobre Gonçalves, stated recently that the problems over the opening of the hunting season on October 2 have still not been completely resolved. However, he stated that until the matter was cleared up, all hunting will be suspended in the former concessionary zone designated “Zona de Caça Turística da Serra de Silves” (Tourist Hunting Zone of the Mountains of Silves), an area covering a massive 6,000 hectares around the Centro Cinegético (Parque Biológico).
The concession, in the event, was never granted to anyone by Silves Câmara and the time within which the concession should have been granted ran out in July. The result is that the entire area could have been a free-for-all hunting zone, with no restrictions. As reported in The Resident’s edition of September 30, the majority of land owners in the affected zone are members of the ‘Viver Serra’, an association for the protection and development of the serras of the Barlavento Algarve, who have now collectively formed the new body ‘XelbCaça’ and submitted a proposal and plan for the management of the area. The proposal is currently being studied and evaluated by Rui Nobre Gonçalves. However, according to government sources, there is still expected to be some delay in the granting of the concession.
In the meantime, the government has ordered that all hunting in the zone be suspended until the present problems are resolved. The Minister also announced that the Guarda Florestal (Forestry Police) will be on hand to make sure no illegal hunting takes place in the zone during the ban.
Fears were, as reported in The Resident, that with many hunters already aware of the legal loophole, an unprecedented number of hunters would descend on the area to prey on a variety of game such as partridges, wild boar and deer, animals which fled to this zone to escape the forest fires. Apart from over-hunting, there was also the obvious problem of too many hunters arriving in the same area, with fears that they would shoot other hunters by mistake, as has happened many times before in Algarve.