You'll recall hunting was suspended three years ago when the ministry announced that allocations of permits for the various species were going to be issued to the hunting companies by auction. Surprisingly, the Chinese public responded with a tsunami of protests that caused the government to cancel the auction and subsequently suspend hunting as well. A number of efforts ensued to educate the public on conservation issues and the role of hunting.
Departments within the Ministry of Forestry have been working since on a new set of hunting regulations and several times seemed poised to reopen hunting. The reopening was delayed for various reasons, including the 2008 Olympics. Now the minister seems focused on getting the job completed.
New regulations and quotas are expected by June 1 in time for the season opening in September. The question is whether the new regulations will follow the old system of assigning permit allocations to each hunting company or pursue the transparent method of public auction. At least one of my sources was concerned that not enough has been done to educate the public about hunting's role in conservation and that another big protest could result. "We need some programs to improve the public perception ASAP," he says. He also says a population-monitoring and data-collection program is needed to show the public over the long term how hunting benefits China's wildlife.
I'm indebted to Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium for seeking me out at SCI to deliver the news, as well as Wang Wei of China Adventure Travel.