European hamsters get support from the European Court of Justice

October 29, 2021

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has further strengthened the protection of the habitat of the European hamsters, which are threatened with extinction

This emerges from a judgment of the ECJ published on Thursday (case C-357/20).

Accordingly, the term “breeding site” includes all areas that are necessary for the successful reproduction of an animal species – including the area surrounding the breeding site.
In the case of the threatened European hamster, a different interpretation of the term could mean that the areas required for the reproduction and the birth of the young animals would not be protected, the ECJ found.

The background to the judgment is a request from the Vienna Administrative Court.
It is about the interpretation of an EU species protection directive. Specifically, it is about construction work in Austria for which a construction road was laid.
Not only was there no permit for this, they also destroyed entrances to hamster burrows.

As a result, an administrative authority imposed a fine on the manager of the company commissioned with the construction.
The latter then lodged a complaint with the administrative court.

European hamster on the red list since 2020

In an earlier judgment on the case, the ECJ had already ruled that resting and breeding sites for field hamsters may not be destroyed even if the animals no longer use them, but may return there.

The European hamster has been on the Red List as critically endangered since 2020 and could not survive for the next 30 years.
Environmentalists see the main reason for the intensive agriculture, which takes the cute animals away from their habitat.

In their new ruling, the judges have also clarified the differences between “damage” and “destruction” of a breeding site or resting place.

Accordingly, it denotes the gradual reduction in ecological functionality or its complete loss – regardless of whether this is done on purpose.

And I mean…It is estimated that the European hamster population has declined by 99 percent since the 1950s.

Not only modern agriculture with the use of chemicals and powerful technology is a threat to the European hamster, but also the land consumption by humans.

In the industrialized country of Germany, around 60 hectares are sealed every day, i.e. more than 80 football fields are built with asphalt or buildings. This area is lost to nature.
And also the habitat of many animals.

The European hamster is dependent on the agricultural landscape. There he finds steppe-like habitats in which he digs his burrows and finds rich food.
But because modern agriculture brings in the harvest earlier and almost completely, the European hamster not only lacks cover and thus protection from enemies, but above all sufficient food for wintering.
If they fail to gather enough food, they will not survive the winter.

Now the ECJ has finally strengthened the right of endangered animals to their habitat: not only their burrows should be protected, but the entire environment.

This is really good news and we are very happy.

My best regards to all, Venus

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