Romania's sheep bite back

Lucy Ash on the simmering feud between hunters and shepherds

The World Today Published 26 May 2016 Updated 27 November 2020 2 minute READ

Lucy Ash

Current affairs presenter, BBC

On the surface the Romanian countryside is in rude health. Since 2010, thanks to European Union and government subsidies, the number of sheep has almost doubled. There are now somewhere between 11 million and 14 million – that’s at least one for every two citizens. But increased flock sizes have prompted a rural revolt, setting shepherds against hunters and environmentalists.

Let’s deal with the hunters first. They are unhappy about the shepherds’ dogs, which they say are often underfed and turn feral. Packs of them have attacked the expensively trained gun dogs or the hunters’ quarry.

Hunting has long been popular in Romania, especially among the elite. The Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu loved going into the forest with his rifle but was such a bad shot others had to hide behind bushes and do the killing for him. I’m told that two-thirds of Romanian MPs are hunters and they lobbied hard for an amendment to the existing hunting law in June 2015.

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