Hunting on Gran Canaria, and other islands, is still a popular traditional activity, mostly engaged in by local men. The hunting season means loud bangs in the hills on Thursdays and Sundays, men walking around rural areas with guns, and 4x4s towing trailers full of hunting dogs across the island.
On Gran Canaria the breeds most used are podenco and pointers. Podencos are a true indigenous breed of the Canaries. It has been speculated that they were brought to the islands by the first human settlers, North Africans possibly from Egypt. Due to being isolated here podencos remains a somewhat preserved example of one of the very oldest breeds to live with humans.
Hunting on the Canary Islands is regulated with specific conditions and limitations on what to hunt, when and where; and all hunters need to have a licence. Different islands have their own sets of conditions, time periods and species.
On Gran Canaria, this year’s specific instructions for small game hunting are as follows;
- rabbit hunting is allowed with a dog or ferret, but without a shotgun, from 7 August to 30 October.
- Hunting with a shot gun & a dog or ferret is authorised on Sundays 18 and 25 September.
- Red partridge, with or without a hunting dog and shotgun is from 11 September to 30 October.
- Hunting of rock doves, with or without a hunting dog and with a shotgun, from 18 September to 30 October.
Hunting is only allowed on Thursdays and Sundays, except falconry and bowhunting
Authorised prey for hunting include rabbit, partridge, rock dove and any feral animals. The latter category is always always controversial putting any animal seen without an owner in the countryside in danger, because if they look like they don’t have an owner then so far as hunters are concerned they are part of the category of small game included as potential targets, as defined under Canarian Hunting Regulations.
- Another controversial subject over the years has been the treatment of animals used for hunting. There are good hunters, who do treat their animals very well and with respect, but unfortunately the bad ones seem to outnumber them still.
- Most podencos used for hunting spend their entire lives either kept on very short chains, in dark sheds or caves. Most of them only witness freedom during hunting season when they are expected to hunt all day long, often in very high temperatures in order to find a rabbit.
- If they do not manage to find their way back to their “owner” or they have injured themselves, they are often left behind to survive on their own.
- The rest of the pack are taken back to their “home”.
- Some dogs are abandoned at the end of every season because it is very easy to get a new one, especially if they have not served well. Some of them are kept in a state of starvation due a belief that they hunt better if they are hungry.
- It is extraordinarily hard to try to help them when encountered in the wild as abandoned podencos can be notoriously difficult to catch because they are so fearful of humans that they would rather run to their deaths then be captured. Some farmers place poison out for them in order to get rid of any unwanted stray dogs.