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The Clash of the German Hunting Community and the Anti-Hunting Movement: Its Political and Social Dimensions

Gary Anderson

On a frozen field 35 kilometers east of Dortmund, members of Germany’s

elite—government officials, business leaders, and royalty—

assemble in the medieval city of Arnsberg for a 1,000 year ritual: the

Arnsberg Treibjagd (driven hunt). Like live-sized Hummelfiguren,

adorned in Bavarian-style Loden coats, expensive Zeiss binoculars,

priceless weapons, and accompanied by the German hunter’s best

friend, the Dackel, they ready themselves for the ancient and hairraising

wail of the hunting horns—the hunt is on! The playing out of

this medieval scene is soon interrupted, however, by an unlikely

group of fast-moving, jean-clad “hunting saboteurs” who, wielding

signs that read “Hunting is Murder,” proceed to barricade hunting

areas and to risk life and limb before high-powered rifles. The scene

plays itself out in the usual way: heated words are exchanged, the

police arrive, and the hunt is cancelled. Over the past few years, this

scenario has become more common in German forests. For the first

time in its deeply rooted existence, German hunting is under siege

by the anti-hunting movement, begging the question of whether this

age-old hunting culture will survive in the new century.

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