Cyprus Mail

Bird trappers changing their methods say activists

A dead barn owl that had been caught on a on lime stick

A new hunting law is failing to address bird trapping, conservationists said on Wednesday, as they criticised authorities for not doing enough to tackle the problem.

According to the Germany-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (Cabs) and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (Spa) the new law seems to have marked a general decrease in trapping activity, but the general situation is not as positive as it would appear.

Reporting the findings of their autumn 2017 bird protection camp in Cyprus, the organisations said trappers have now changed their methods because of the law.

“The consequence of the new law is that trappers are now shifting from mist nets to limesticks,” said Alexander Heyd, Cabs general director. “We have observed an increase in the number of poachers using limesticks. They realise that the fines for mist-netting are a deterrent, as long as the authorities enforce the law in the field, whilst those for limesticks are totally ineffective. If the goal of the law is indeed to tackle bird trapping, it is failing. Limesticks are still widespread and make huge damages to migrating birds”.

Cabs volunteers together with the authorities removed 6,248 limesticks during 2017, and they estimate that in just 60 days over the autumn around 185,000 birds could have been caught in the limesticks they found.

“Since the camp focuses only a part of the island, we estimate that around 15,000 limesticks and 200 mistnets were in use in Cyprus only last autumn, potentially killing some 850,000 birds. This is a real hazard for the local and migratory bird populations, as some 155 bird species are affected by this illegal activity, half of them in decline or threatened.”

The organisation said they found rare bird species glued on the sticks and they often had to save and rescue magnificent birds like hawks and owls.

“If trappers do not kill them on the spot, they throw them away covered in glue, condemning them to a long and awful death. Fortunately, our volunteers managed to save 595 birds during this period, but also prevented the death of many thousands.”

The conservationists said the efforts by Cypriot authorities during this time had reached an all time low, leaving conservation organisations alone in the battle against this crime.




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