Approximately 435,000 birds, including migratory and threatened species, were illegally trapped and killed last autumn according to bird welfare organisations.

The latest reports on bird trapping were found by BirdLife Cyprus, the royal society for the protection of birds (RSPB) and the committee against bird slaughter (CABS).

This indicates an alarming increase in trapping levels compared to previous years’ decline,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

Thy said the increase is mainly due to organised crime bird trapping law relaxations against lime stick, lack of support from Cyprus’ anti-poaching unit and the understaffing of the British bases police.

“Although the use of nets in the Republic of Cyprus was around the same levels as last year, there was nevertheless increased activity by well-known, organised groups of trappers who essentially continue to trap birds on a large scale,” they said, adding that on several occasions, members from the organisations have been attacked by the organised trappers.

“We call on the Cyprus Police Anti-Poaching Unit to draw up an action plan in collaboration with the Game and Fauna Service to tackle this issue,” the organisations added.

The relaxation in fines from €2000 to €200 for the killing of up to 50 birds using limesticks is making penalties neither punitive nor deterrent, indirectly decriminalising this trapping method.”

The organisations are calling on the House of Representatives to annul the law relaxation and increase the fines to €2000 for all birds, regardless of killing method or bird species.

“We believe that the heightened trapping levels last autumn were related to the understaffing of the British bases police team responsible for cracking down on bird poaching and trapping within their jurisdiction,” they stressed, calling on the British bases police to be sufficiently staffed to maintain low levels of trapping recorded in recent years.