Sunday, November 28

Judgment of the European Court of Justice: European hamsters have the right to habitat

Status: 10/28/2021 2:32 p.m.

Agriculture and construction projects – these are the great enemies of the European hamster. The ECJ has now strengthened the right of endangered animals to their habitat: not only their burrows should be protected, but the entire environment.

By Kerstin Anabah, ARD legal editor

The European hamster is one of the strictly protected animal species. Its resting and breeding grounds must not be damaged or destroyed. The judges from Luxembourg today determined what a “breeding site” is: namely the entire area that the European hamster needs in order to reproduce successfully – not just its structure, but also the spatial environment.

Even breeding sites that the European hamster no longer uses must be protected. At least when there is a high probability that he will return there to provide for offspring.

A similar verdict last year

The ECJ had already decided in 2020 for so-called “resting places”. How long the European hamster actually lives in its den is not important. Not even how long he is pregnant or how long he is raising his young.

In particular, the breeding sites and resting places of the European hamster must not be damaged or destroyed by human activities. This is the only way to ensure that it will rest undisturbed and then reproduce.

Violation of nature conservation law

In the specific case from Austria, construction was carried out on a piece of land on which the European hamster had already settled. This destroyed at least two hamster burrow entrances.

The manager of the construction company was fined for violating nature conservation law. He lodged a complaint with the Vienna Administrative Court. The judges there turned to the ECJ and asked for an interpretation. After the verdict from Luxembourg, the administrative court has to decide again on the case.

The European hamster is considered critically endangered and may not survive for the next 30 years. Environmentalists see the main reason for the intensive agriculture, which robs animals of their habitat. It is estimated that there are only up to 50,000 European hamsters left in Germany.

ECJ ruling on the European hamster

Kerstin Anabah, SWR, 28.10.2021 · 13:57

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