General info game

How is hunting regulated in the Netherlands?

This is not a company video, but rather a beautiful autonomous project by Ted Alkemade and Vera Holland. “Wij Jagen” (We Hunt) is a short documentary that tells the authentic story of a hunting group in the Dutch province of Drenthe and their second nature, hunting.

The complete story about the hunt is as follows. Every landowner in the Netherlands has the right to hunt. That is, the methods he may use to hunt on his own land are laid down in law. In most cases, a hunting license is required, similarly when one wants to hunt with a rifle. If the landowner with the right to hunt is not willing or able to hunt, he can rent out this right to a holder of a hunting license – a hunter. This hunter is then the hunt owner.

To be able to hunt with a rifle, the rented land must be at least 40 continuous hectares. The 40-hectare regulation is designed to allow the hunt owner to fully comply with his obligations, namely the obligation to ensure the establishment and maintenance of reasonable numbers of the hunted wildlife as described in the law. These are the mallard duck, the hare, the rabbit, the pheasant and the wood pigeon. In short, those who wish to hunt hare must first ensure there are sufficient numbers of hare and that these numbers can be maintained. Furthermore, the hunt owner must also ensure that these designated hunted species do not cause damage to crops, for example. These game species are designated because, with rational fauna management, they are not endangered and are fit for consumption. They may only be hunted during the open hunting season, which for most of these species is in early winter. The guiding principle is that no more than 20% of the available game can be taken; a number that has been shown will ensure reasonable annual numbers.

In order to get 40 hectares together, the hunter usually rents the hunting right from multiple landowners with whom he settles his rent every year. Hunt owners can then invite guest hunters along on hunting trips, for instance when hunting pheasants or hare, where the hunting strategy of walking in a line is used – in the hope that the game can be discovered within shot of a hunter and taken for his/her own consumption, or for that of others. Hunters cannot meet the demand of the Dutch consumers; therefore a further 95% is imported from abroad annually.

This concludes the part on the hunt for those species that can be legally hunted in the Netherlands.

When a land user suffers financial loss due to damage caused by geese, for example, he can first take care of it himself by attempting to dispel them with available repellents, or ask the government to grant him a temporary license to remove the geese using a rifle. This will be granted if there is a threat of major damage to crops, for example. The landowner then asks a hunter to make use of the exemption and intervene with a rifle in order to prevent damage to the crops. Hunters cannot simply shoot geese of their own accord; they may only do so at the request of land users. They do everything possible to minimise the damage, but because problems with geese are so large, in many cases the damage is still significant and the government provides compensation from the “Faunafonds” (Fauna Fund).

The hunting of roe deer, red deer, fallow deer and wild boar is not open in the Netherlands. However, because road safety can be put at risk by increasing numbers of big game, provincial governments ask hunters to control the populations and maintain them at an acceptable level. In order to do this, a fauna management plan is drawn up to determine how many animals may remain within a certain area without causing too much damage. Despite efforts by hunters (and others), tens of thousands of collisions with big game still occur on an annual basis.

The government has decided that some animals are harmful in general, for example, the fox and the crow. They are so-called predatory mammals and birds. The presence of these species is harmful, especially for grassland birds. The hunter may only attempt to prevent damage caused by these sorts of animals at the request of the land user.

Are you interested in receiving more information about the game industry, the various types of game, game news and recipes & cooking? Please visit