Doing Business with…Latvia
A popular and buoyant European nation, Latvia has a strong combination of fantastic hunting opportunities and a high level of business expertise which makes this Baltic nation a sought-after area to do business in, as Gun Trade World investigates.
Latvia is a Baltic State and has full membership of the European Union. The country is covered by the Schengen agreement, allowing free passage in and out for EU citizens. Latvia, as a more recent EU member, still offers remarkable value for money for visitors, yet standards are now on a par with those in other member states. There are excellent hotels and the accommodation and the food is good, plus its beer is excellent also! Latvia is very attractive for eco-tourism because of its unspoiled nature and a low population density.
The climate is ‘Continental’, with summer highs around 30°C and winter lows of -30°C. Latvia is far enough north to extend the summer daylight beyond 10pm and summer dawn is at 4am in the morning. For most of the time the country enjoys stable weather as well as the occasional rain and snow.
Latvia has a great deal of forest and although a small country, there is a small population, the majority of which is concentrated in Riga in the west. In the east there is hectare after hectare of quiet woodland and forest glades, full with wildlife.
This wealth of habitat has given rise to a long tradition of conservation in Latvia and excellent wildlife management. More than 10,000 European moose are taken each year in Latvia, primarily from stands or high seats but also with the use of moose dogs and calling during the rut. Driven wild boar hunts are also popular. Other huntable game found in Latvia includes the European lynx (often hunted with hounds, similar to cougars in the USA), red stags, and the unusual but highly sought-after raccoon dog. Bird hunters will find good populations of capercaillie and black grouse in Latvia.
According to the latest figures (July 2020), the game animals most often harvest were Roe Deer, more than 34,000. Second place went to beavers (more than 30,000) and then Red Deer (more than 20,000).
Most figures were comparable to the numbers taken during the 2018/2019 season, though there was a notable decline in the number of Lynx killed (71 as against 145 the previous year).
The total kill count did increase to 131,361 game animals during the most recent hunting season, up from 119,458 the previous season.
Hunting is a popular activity in Lativa and there are approximately 22,000 registered hunters and it is estimated that hunting is worth 37 million Euros a year. There is a strong history and tradition of forest hunting and an influential political lobby with many senior politicians being active hunters. Overall hunting is generally accepted as both a sporting activity and an evidence-based mechanism for controlling both herbivore and carnivore populations.
LAWS & REGULATIONS
Hunting and game management in Latvia is supervised by three government authorities: the State Forest Service, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, manages population estimates, quotas, permits, damage assessment, register of hunters; the State Police, firearms regulation and enforcement and the Ministry of Environment, management of protected species and hunting in protected areas.
Wild deer in Latvia aren’t owned by anyone and hunting rights go with the land but can be sold or leased to third parties. The State Forest Service leases hunting to 923 hunting organisations and issues licences at a cost of 1.42 Euros a year plus 0.50 Euros per hectare. On private land hunting rent is set by the landowner. There are no Deer Management Groups in Latvia, instead the country is divided into 2074 hunting districts which manage hunting at a local level. State Forest Service leases are issued to individual hunters, hunting syndicates and hunting associations on agreement of a set of conditions including overall land management objectives, cull targets and agreed collaboration with neighbours.
Cull targets as based on damage to the forest as estimated by the State Forest Service. Hunters are given bag limit to meet within the legally-defined hunting season, if the limit is reached before the season ends hunting stops. Hunters record deer taken online logging the time, place, species and sex and carcasses are tagged so that they can be traced back to the individual hunter. A mobile phone app is being developed to facilitate this. The data collected is used to monitor cull targets and assess damage management across the country.
Although the right to hunt comes with land ownership, a minimum area of land is required by law in order to hunt each game species:
- roe deer; no less than 200 ha of woodlands and farmlands
- red deer hinds and calves; no less than 1000 ha of woodlands
- red deer stags; no less than 2000 ha of woodlands
- moose; less than 2500 ha of woodlands
This is calculated by estimating the winter forage areas required for each species. The average land holding is 10ha so this minimum land area requirement ensures collaboration between hunters and encourages population scale management. It also prevents the subdivision of land for hunting into smaller and smaller areas.
There is no qualification required to demonstrate competence to hunt. Hunting is so popular and widespread in Latvia that the State Forest Service does not employ professional stalkers or rangers and all deer and moose management on state owned forest is carried out by what we would call ‘recreational’ hunters. Hunting tourism is also popular in Latvia and provides revenue for private landowners. There is a general trend of rural de-population across Latvia and this may be partly responsible for hunters being an aging population. However, demand for land to hunt over remains high often leading to conflict between hunters or between hunting organisations and the State Forest Service.
Latvian forest also has beaver, wildboar, lynx, wolves; all of which are hunted. Lynx and wolves are European protected species and Latvia has secured a derogation under the Habitats Directive to allow harvesting of both species. European brown bears are expanding their range into Latvia from Estonia and Russia, however the population is small and to date hunting has not been allowed.
Dialling code: +371
President: Egils Levits
Official language: Latvian
Time zone: UTC +2
ECONOMY IN FOCUS
The economy of Latvia is an open economy in Northern Europe and is part of the European Union's (EU) single market. Latvia is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1999, a member of the European Union since 2004, a member of the Eurozone since 2014 and a member of the OECD since 2016. Latvia is ranked 14th in the world by the Ease of Doing Business Index prepared by the World Bank Group, according to the Human Development Report 2011, Latvia belongs to the group of very high human development countries. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly developed, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronic devices.
GDP: 34.41 billion
GDP per capita: 17,860.62
GDP growth rate: 4.6 per cent
Unemployment rate: 7.41 per cent
Ease of doing business: 19th in the world
Top export partners: Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Sweden Germany
Top import partners: Germany, Poland, Estonia, Russia
IN THE CROSSHAIRS
It’s common practice to hunt wild boar from fixed sets, in the late evening or during the night, next to feeding grounds that the wild boar prefers. The most attractive time is in the late summer when the wild boar starts to visit the ripening grain fields. If the weather permits the dedicated will spend a whole night in a tower set to get a really good trophy.
The roe buck hunting in Latvia is a very popular form of hunting chosen by foreign hunters. The hunting season for roe bucks begins 1. June and ends 30. November. The most exciting time for roe buck hunt is the beginning of rut (July, August). Hunting usually means sitting in a stand of trees on the edge of meadow or a clear-cut area, where bucks come to feed. It is strongly recommended to use a locker during the rut time to see the strongest bucks. If you prefer active hunting and stalking, this is best in the morning or evening.
Recommended calibers are .223 Rem up to .308Win caliber rifles.
Elk is very common but hunters will need to work hard to find an animal with antlers of trophy quality. The most common way of hunting elk is to wait concealed near a place like a fallen Aspen tree, where they are likely to gather for food. During the mating period the elk bulls gather in certain places and it is possible to go there to collect a fine specimen. Later, in the autumn, like in Scandinavia, it is possible to hunt elk with dogs. The hunters remain concealed upwind and the trained dogs drive the elk within shooting range.
WHAT: Outdoor Riga
WHEN: 26 – 28 March 2021
LEARN MORE: www.bt1.lv
The OUTDOOR RIGA 2021 tradeshow promotes outdoor adventure and recreational activities combining the International Trade Fair for Boats and Yachts “Baltic Boat Show”, the International Fair for Hunting and Fishing Gear and Accessories "Hunting & Fishing" and the Trade Fair for Motorcycle and Bicycle Lifestyle "Moto & Velo" under a single brand name.
The hunting section of the fair includes Hunting weapons, optical devices, hunting accessories, hunter’s clothing, game farm equipment, hunting tourism in Latvia and other countries and leathers
* In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check with organisers to see the exact details of the event in 2021.