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Can you really be fined €50,000 for killing a wasp in Germany?

Can you really be fined €50,000 for killing a wasp in Germany?
By Alexandra Leistner
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As temperatures rise across Europe so too do the number of insects, but how much could it cost you to kill a wasp?


As temperatures rise across Europe so too do the number of insects, with wasps in particular a common annoyance for people trying to enjoy a cool drink or snack outside during the summer months. 

But while the instinct may be to kill the nuisance bug, many may not know that in Germany this could land you with a hefty fine.

The law

The Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits the deliberate disturbance of wasps — and other wild animals — or their capture, injury or death without reasonable cause.

Other wild animals included in the list of fines kept by individual states include beetles, squirrels, bumblebees, moles, butterflies, snails and wolves.

Fines vary among different animals and between different states. 

People who kill a wasp could technically be forced to pay between €5,000 and €50,000 for violating the act.

Is it possible to kill a wasp legally?

Animal lawyer Andreas Ackenheil said the threat posed by wasps is widely misunderstood. 

Out of around 10,000 species, only two are actually dangerous to humans, and they normally don't come into contact with populated areas, he explained. 

But despite the limited risk, Ackenheil told Euronews the law allows for exceptions, with people who are allergic to wasps entitled to kill the insect before putting themselves in danger.

He noted that a permit from authorities is required to remove a problem wasp nest, but people could be confident that specialist services would have the necessary approval.

Are people ever really fined?

While the law exists on paper, infringements are rarely reported to authorities, and Ackenheil told Euronews that a fine for killing a single wasp "doesn't actually happen".

The lawyer noted that only extreme cases tend to make it to court, where penalties can go up to hundreds of thousands of euros.

So what is the point?

Ackenheil said the fines, which have been in place for years, were intended as a deterrence measure.

Killing insects has far-reaching consequences for nature, he said, as he explained that wasps contribute to maintaining the ecological balance by killing mosquitoes, fruit flies and other pests, and playing an important role in pollinating flowers. 

Ackenheil pointed out that there are friendlier ways of dealing with nuisance wasps, such as by putting a plate of sweets at a nearby table to distract them. 

The animal rights lawyer said education has an important role to play in protecting the ecosystem, noting that success has been seen already in the growth of insects in rural areas as a result of farmers using fewer pesticides.

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