Is your garden a hunting ground?

Areas of land, including people’s gardens that are not designated for hunting appear as such on maps of their hunting grounds that hunters are obliged to give to the authorities. Across Flanders there are numerous cases gardens and other private property appearing on maps as land designated for hunting.

In their defence, hunting groups say that it isn’t always easy to complete the administrative formalities required for them to be allowed to hunt, formalities that include the provision of a map showing that the hunting ground is at least 40 hectares.

However, in densely-populated Flanders, finding a surface are of 40 hectares that can be used exclusively for hunting during the hunting season is not always easy.

Consequently, hunters sometime designated people’s gardens and other areas of land adjacent to their hunting grounds as hunting land and the maps they send to the authorities.

Jan Rodts of the Flemish Society for the Protection of Birds told VRT News that “Before the first of April each year hunters are obliged to provide hunting maps. These show on a land registry map which plots the hunters use for hunting”.

"The District Commission is not obliged to check the accuracy of the maps unless there are complaints from people that suspect that their property has been designated as land used for hunting without their say-so.”

More than 231 hectares of land that had been illegally designated as land used by hunters have been taken off hunting maps so far.

"Enorme taak om overal correct te doen"

According to Geert Van den Bosch of the Flemish hunter’s association (Hubertus Vereniging Vlaanderen), it is not always simple to correctly complete all the administrative formalities.

"Before you can designate an area for hunting, the person with the hunting licence has to get the agreement of the owner of each individual plot. A hunting ground can be made up of a few hundred plots. It is a massive task to do this correctly and to continue to follow things up”.