The Norwegian Environment Agency and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority have requested the Norwegian Scientific Committee for food safety (VKM) to assess the potential impacts to Norwegian biodiversity and animal health stemming from the import and release of mallards for hunting purposes.
VKM will assess the risk of genetic mixing (hybridization/introgression) between wild mallards and farmed mallards, and the potential consequences such genetic mixing could have for the wild mallard population.
Farmed mallard populations will most likely originate from a few individuals only and will therefore generally have less genetic variation then wild populations. Moreover, properties of the wild mallards, such as for example the shape of the beak, may be different in farmed mallards, and genetic mixing between the two types of mallards may contribute to loss of essential traits in the wild population.
VKM will also assess whether the release of a large number of individuals, with the resulting increase in fecal deposits, could contribute to alter the level of oxygen in freshwater ponds and lakes (through the process of eutrophication). Further, VKM will assess whether increased density of mallards could attract more predators such as goshawk, foxes and mink and the consequences resulting from this.
Import of mallards is regulated in Norway. The Regulation takes into account many aspects related to mallard health, however, it does not cover all diseases. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is particularly attentive to the risk that farmed mallards may introduce diseases previously not detected in wild or domesticated birds in Norway. Further, the NFSA is concerned with the survival rate of the released mallards and which risk factors that may affect survival.
Mallards are imported for hunting purposes
Mallards are farmed in Sweden and are regularly imported to Norway in order to release them for hunting purposes. As of 1.1. 2016, the Regulation on alien organisms was effectuated in Norway. Consequently, the import and release of mallards in Norway requires a permission from the authorities.
The Norwegian Environment Agency intend to use the VKM report as a baseline for processing applications regarding import and release of mallards to Norway.
The VKM panel on Alien Organisms and Trade in endangered species (CITES) will assess and approve the report. The report will be published 15th of June 2017.