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Visitors can target unprotected animals without State approval
Foreigners have been given the go-ahead to hunt unprotected wild animals across China without the State Forestry Administration's approval.
The move was announced by the State Council on Wednesday but one industry insider is not viewing it as a sign of looser government control.
A press official with the forestry administration, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the move only covers wild animals not on the national animal protection list.
"We will still strengthen the management of listed protected wild animals," he said.
Wang Wei, general manager of China Adventure Travel, which runs a hunting service for Chinese clients abroad, told China Daily that even cutting State Forestry Administration approval from hunting permission does not mean reduced government control.
The law on wild animal protection states that foreigners who want to visit China for hunting must obtain a license for unprotected animals, and special permission for hunting protected ones.
"With all these license requirements under the law, approval from the State Forestry Administration on wild animals, protected or not, should be canceled to save time and money," Wang said, adding that foreign hunters prefer to hunt protected animals rarely seen in their own countries.
However, an official with the Qinghai Forestry Bureau considered the move a good one for the Dulan International Hunting Ground in Northwest China's Qinghai province, the first hunting ground open to foreigners in 1985.
A manager at the hunting ground said that since 2006, when the nation halted hunting, the venue has had no money to maintain its daily operations and the number of employees had fallen from more than 20 to five.
The number of blue sheep, protected at the national level, rose from less than 1,000 in 1984 to more than 100,000 in 2009 at the Dulan hunting ground, statistics from the Qinghai Forestry Bureau show.
"Without hunting income, the hunting ground cannot survive and is likely to close any time," the manager said.
Liu Guolie, a Chinese-American who pioneered sports hunting in China in 1984, said the real victims of the nation's current ban on hunting are the herdsmen who lost income earned from it.
Reopening hunting will result in a "win-win" situation by controlling the ever-growing number of wildlife and raising local people's living standards, Liu says.
The Dulan hunting ground manager lost his last customers in 2011 when seven US citizens applied to the State Forestry Administration to hunt 16 nationally protected wild animals at the venue.
But they dropped the application after more than 70 animal protection organizations signed a petition opposing it following media reports.
Yan Xun, chief engineer of the department of wildlife conservation and nature reserve management at the State Forestry Administration, told a news conference in June: "For any application from foreigners to hunt nationally protected wild animals in China, the administration will conduct assessments and then decide whether to give the approval or not."
Cai Chunhong, a Beijing lawyer who focuses on animal protection, voiced her fears over the latest move.
"It will simplify the approval procedures for hunting wildlife that is not under special national protection. Therefore, it is very likely that more such animals will be indiscriminately slaughtered in the future," she said.
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