Wildlife, Damages, Administrative

In this case, the Liechtenstein Office for the Environment (Defendants) decided to grant an exception for the catching and killing of beavers, in accordance with animal welfare standards, and the partial or complete removal of beaver dams in the area of Hälos and Balzers. Under Annex III of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the beaver belongs to a protected species in Liechtenstein. The Office stated these procedures were put in place due to the recent and sustained migration pressure of beavers whose landscaping activities caused economic damage and risked of destruction of the flood plain protection structures of Hälos and Balzers. Plaintiff alleged lack of consideration and reasoning in the Office of the Environment’s decision, argued on factual grounds the “constant and new immigration” of beavers was unfounded, and argued the decision to impose the harshest regulating measure, catch and kill, should be sustained when alternatives and economic costs are considered, and should not apply retroactively.

The court held that for the flood protection system Hälos, the Office for the Environment had adequately considered alternatives, but had to undergo a review of the decision after the appropriate findings of fact have been made regarding direct economic impacts of the beaver population. As a result, the administrative decision that allows for capture and killing was considered binding in the Hälos flood protection area. The court further decided that the decision by the Office for the Environment could not apply retroactively. The court also found that for the valley waters of the municipality Balzers, the decision by the Office for the Environment must be repealed and reconsidered to clarify differences between settled and non-settled beavers and retroactivity of the decision. As a result, the administrative decision was retuned to the Office of the Environment for the purpose of reviewing and supplementing the decision.


(Source: Courts for the Principality of Liechtenstein,, last accessed 06/06/2018)