Cyprus Mail

Bird trappers caught are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’

3. song thrush caught in a net
Song thrush caught in a net

Conservationists and the game service dismantled 26 illegal bird trapping installations in Larnaca, it was announced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (Cabs) has accused hunters and trappers of large-scale illegal killing of birds wintering on the island.

Despite only one team deployed numerous cases of illegal hunting have been documented since the January 10, Cabs reported, resulting in 18 poachers being successfully identified and prosecuted.

The poachers are using electronic decoys to lure migrating song thrushes within range of their awaiting rifles. Others set up huge mist-nets in anticipation of the birds’ arrival.

Cabs thanked the game service and the British bases police for their support in recent operations, but CEO Alexander Heyd said that cases of poachers caught are only the tip of the iceberg.

“In the days after the storm in mid-January hundreds of electronic bird callers and shots could be heard everywhere on the island. We assume that around this peak, tens of thousands of birds were illegally killed,” he said.

Meanwhile, last Saturday, hunters gathered in Aradippou to protest against high fines for the use of electronic decoys and against anti-poaching operations by the conservationist group.

During the demonstration, organised by “Active Citizens -Movement of United Cyprus Hunters”, speakers urged the government to lower the fines for the use of bird lures and to legalise spring hunting and bird trapping with nets and lime sticks.

“We are noting with astonishment the audacity […] with which this lobby is trying to blackmail politicians to violate European law and to stop the legal work of NGOs exposing the crimes of their members,” Heyd said.

He claimed the group was misinforming the public about the alleged legality of such activities in Europe, stating that in France, Italy and Spain bird trapping, as well as hunting in spring, had been banned nationwide, while Malta will soon stand trial at the European Court of Justice for attempting to reintroduce trapping with clap-nets.

1. illegal mist net used to trap wild birds
Iillegal mist net used to trap wild birds

CABS also expressed concern over a proposal by hunters to open a spring hunting season for the European turtle dove.

The conservationists charged that politicians were entertaining the hunters’ movement’s “irresponsible request” and trading the lives of birds against votes for the EU parliament.

The NGO called for the state to strengthen local enforcement agencies and increase fines so they can serve as an effective deterrent.

The game service for its part, issued a statement saying that the service supports the implementation of the law for the protection of all wild fauna and the environment.

“We are acutely troubled by publicised petitions for reduction of fines and legalising illegal trapping of birds, which raise big questions about whose interests are being served,” the service stated.

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