|BirdLife review of Illegal Trapping and killing of Birds in Europe
Illegal killing and taking of birds is a widespread phenomenon and is not primarily restricted to the Mediterranean countries, as often speculated.
Our review has shown that such activities occur on a regular basis in most European countries, although their intensity in the Mediterranean and SE European countries is indeed higher. The rate of occurrence of the most commonly reported illegal activities has shown that no activity is a single country issue. In fact, most of the reported activities occurred in 15 or more countries. The most commonly reported being ‘hunting outside of the legal season’, ‘illegal trade’, ‘illegal trapping’ and persecution for ‘control of predators’.
By collecting information about the scale of occurrence of each activity within the individual countries and by taking into account the species affected and the expected impact (based on expert judgement) we were able to rank the illegal activities according to their importance. The most important illegal activities were ‘poisoning’, ‘illegal trade’ and the violation of the hunting seasons and protected areas regimes that exclude hunting.
Deliberate poisoning of wildlife appears to be the activity of highest importance, mainly due to its impact on already threatened species (e.g. scavengers) but also because it is increasing in at least nine countries. The free access to poisonous agro chemicals and ineffective control over their use, combined with the existing antagonism toward predators and economic drivers exacerbate the situation, as evidenced in a number of countries.
Finally, we conclude that the conservation and sustainable use of bird populations in Europe is still under serious question.
Sustainability requires at least two key elements: Knowledge and Effective Regulation. Our results show that neither of the two has yet reached satisfactory levels in our region. Therefore, BirdLife considers that all European countries and institutions should contribute much more resources to:
|More case studies on poisoning of raptors across the EU:
Willem Van den Bossche, Willem.Vandenbossche(at)birdlife.org
Types of illegal killing categories used in the survey
1. Killing / taking of protected bird species
2 Killing / taking of birds outside the legal open season (for “huntable” species for which open and closed seasons are set in legislation)
3 Killing / taking of birds with illegal means or methods (regardless of the species)
4 Killing / taking of birds within protected areas (where such activities are forbidden)
5 Killing / taking of birds by unauthorised persons (having no official licence or permit)
6 Illegal / unregulated trade of birds