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BirdLife Cyprus launches petition against change in bird protection law

A bird caught on a limestick

BirdLife Cyprus has launched an online petition demanding reversal of a recent amendment to the bird protection law it says undermines a 20-year effort to protect migratory songbirds.

The petition on change.org, has already garnered more than 4000 signatures. It is addressed to the interior and justice ministers, the president of the House of Representatives and party leaders and other MPs.

It follows approval in early December of an amendment to Cyprus’ bird protection law which slashinh the on-the-spot fine for the illegal killing (using limesticks or a shotgun) of up to 50 birds on a list of 14 protected non-game species from €2000 to €200.

These 14 songbird species “happen” to be the target-species of trappers and poachers, also known as “ambelopoulia”, the NGO said in its petition.

“The proposal to reduce the fine was tabled by the Game and Fauna Service, who claimed that higher fines were not enforceable and that a lower fine would be more “effective”. We have to ask: if there was indeed a problem with enforcement of the existing (higher) fines, why was the proposal only for this specific offence (limesticks/shooting) and for only these specific species?” BirdLife Cypru queried.

And it added: “It is clear as day that reducing the fine for these 14 target-species constitutes a relaxation of the law and encourages the illegal killing of birds with limesticks or a shotgun. Offenders will essentially be getting nothing more than a slap on the wrist.”

The petition demands reversal of the amendment and restoration of the €2000 fine for the illegal killing of birds with either limesticks or a shotgun and without any exceptions concerning specific bird species, as foreseen by the bird protection law for other illegal bird killing offences.

“We call upon the competent Ministry, MPs and their Parties to restore strict and effective fines – without any exceptions – through a new law amendment,” it added.

Bird trapping with mist nets and limesticks is a damaging and non-selective practice that affects over 150 species of birds, mostly migratory, it said.

The main killing season is autumn, when, according to BirdLife Cyprus’ systematic monitoring programme, hundreds of thousands of birds are illegally killed to be sold as illegal but highly lucrative ambelopoulia “delicacies”. These past few years there has been a reduction in bird trapping levels, especially concerning trapping with mist-nets.

Unfortunately, this new law amendment constitutes a serious step backwards and undermines 20 years of conservation work, it said.

For link to petition click here.

 

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