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Polish environment minister: Too many species are protected

WARSAW — Poland’s environment minister angered environmentalists by saying he favors reducing the number of protected species including elk and bison because some of the animals damage crops — but he added it isn’t easy in an age of ‘‘excessive sensitivity to animal protection.’’

Henryk Kowalczyk told residents in the northern town of Mlawa that his ministry had suggested to regional environmental authorities that they might grant more permits to hunt elk, bison, and beavers. These are all protected species under European law.

‘‘We live in times of excessive sensitivity to animal protection, to put it mildly,’’ Kowalczyk said Sunday. His remarks were widely reported in Polish media Thursday.

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“It is unthinkable that the environment minister publicly says that he gave instructions to bypass the law that he is supposed to be the guardian of,’’ said Agata Szafraniuk, a lawyer for the ClientEarth environmental group.

associated press