The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (Cabs) has criticised the Cyprus government for allowing hunters to shoot in an area where protected migratory birds fly, fearing a repeat of what they called last September’s “massacres”.

However, the Game and Fauna Service said the area would be well policed and no violations would be tolerated.

In a statement, Cabs said it was “fearing another massacre of protected migratory birds” after the government listed a poaching hotspot dubbed the ‘Bee-eater Cemetery’, as an official hunting area.
It said the official map with the designated hunting areas and dates for the upcoming hunting season was released a few days ago by Game and Fauna Service and also includes the Meneou area, which last September gained notoriety after Cabs members “documented massacres of protected migratory birds near Lake Soros.”

Cabs repeated its call to the government to remove the Meneou area from the list of designated hunting areas before the opening of the season on Sunday.

Whilst calling for clear ‘no hunting’ signage and effective enforcement, Cabs members will be monitoring the situation daily and reporting any illegal activity “to avoid another predictable massacre”, it added.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the Game and Fauna Service in Larnaca, told CNA officers would be patrolling the area and any violations would be immediately reported.

The service, he added was “very well aware” that it was a sensitive area, just like all coastal areas.

Asked why the specific area was listed in the designated hunting areas since it is considered ‘sensitive’, the spokesperson said that all areas in Larnaca and generally in Cyprus can be considered sensitive since hunting does not take place in fenced areas.

“There is policing and for this reason we will have patrols out not to allow any illegality,” the spokesperson added.

He also said that since 2003, those wishing to get hunting licences have to undergo special lessons and exams before they are granted a licence. The department, he added, aims to develop in hunters an increased awareness to protect the environment and follow the rules and legislation. “We pay attention to this in an effort to lessen illegalities,” he noted.

To a remark that the hunters’ lessons might not be as effective as desired since last year Cabs said that a massacre has taken place in the area, the spokesperson said: “The department is aware of protecting the bee-eaters. We will pay more attention to areas where isolated incidents have taken place. There are only a few hunters that violate the laws. The majority don’t,” he added.

The Game and Fauna service on Tuesday announced the regulations for turtle dove hunting this year that limits killing to 12 birds per hunter for the entire season. The hunting season begins on Sunday and ends on September 30.