Europe and Central Asia

Illegal killing and hunting


BirdLife sees the EU Birds Directive as a very good framework to regulate the hunting of birds. The adequate implementation and enforcement of the Directive by Member States and all stakeholders is an essential minimum requirement and important contribution to reach the ultimate aim which is to make hunting of birds a truly sustainable activity across the European Union.

Hunters have an important role to play, not only in ensuring their own activities are sustainable, but also in joining forces with all who work for a better environment rich in wildlife.

The provisions of the EU Birds Directive on hunting

In its articles 7-9 the Birds Directive regulates the hunting of birds. Illegal killing of birds also refers to ‘hunting ‘ activities that occur outside this legal framework.

The bird species that can be hunted in the EU are listed in the Birds Directive’s Annex II. This annex is divided in two parts. AnnexII/1 lists all species that might be hunted in all Member States and Annex II/2 lists species that is possible to hunt in particular Member States. Within these limits each Member State is free to decide which species are huntable in the respective country.

  • Art.7(4) of the Birds Directive states a number of principles how hunting should be practiced and prohibits any hunting during the period of reproduction (breeding/rearing) and during the return of birds to their breeding grounds (spring migration). These periods are defined for each Member State and each huntable species in the so called “Key Concepts” document issued by the European Commission.
  • Art.8 prohibits a number of hunting methods, e.g. trapping with nets, which are listed in Annex IV of the Directive.
  • Art.9 provides the possibility for Member States to derogate from Articles 5-8 for certain reasons and under strictly defined circumstances.

A detailed interpretation of these provisions and reference to case law from the European Court can be found in a Guidance Document produced by the Commission. The document is available in all EU languages at the Commission’s web-page on sustainable hunting.