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CABS Spring Bird Protection Camps 2017

Between February 18 to May 21, around 60 CABS members and volunteers have participated in 9 bird protection camps across Italy, Malta and Cyprus. During the 13 week period we found 1,834 limesticks, 90 mist nets, 83 snap traps and 6 cage traps. As a direct result of our reports, a total of 41 poachers were arrested - 4 guns and 1,342 rounds of ammunition were seized. Nearly 300 birds were released - either from traps and nets, or from aviaries of criminal animal traders.

A short summary of the results for each assignment has been collated here:

Brescia (Italy) 18.2. - 12.3.2017

Robin set free from a net.Robin set free from a net.The trapping of birds is quite rare in the Southern Alps of Italy during the spring. Therefore no although no bird protection camp was planned we have conducted monitoring of all the known hotspots between late January and early March.

As a result, three poachers were arrested. Five mist nets, four clap traps, 21 snap traps and 17 live decoys were seized including fieldfare, song thrushes and chaffinches. A freshly caught blackcap and a robin were freed from the nets.

Malta 11.3.- 2.4.2017

Trapping equipment seized by the Maltese police.Trapping equipment seized by the Maltese police.The result of our bird protection campaign against the finch trapping in Malta is shocking: despite strict prohibition, the bird trappers have blanketed almost the entire coastline of the Mediterranean island with nets. They catch finches such as goldfinch, greenfinch or linnets as cage and aviary birds. In total, our CABS teams were able to identify 133 active sites. 21 perpetrators were convicted - their nets and other trapping equipment seized together with around 35 live decoys (especially linnets) which we subsequently managed to liberate. A further 40 sites with ground nets were reported to the authorities and dismantled by the police, without the poachers being caught. Our impression is that the policy on Malta towards bird trapping has intensified further after this spring season.

Cyprus 23.3. - 14.5.2017

A sad find, a Cretzschmar’s Bunting dead on a limestick.A sad find, a Cretzschmar’s Bunting dead on a limestick.Our largest spring campaign against bird slaughter took place in Cyprus. Our teams were there for 8 weeks! Our long-standing campaigns have led to much fewer active trapping sites than observed five years ago and the trappers are no longer laying their limesticks all the time. Because we know exactly which individual bird trappers remain active in the spring, we have kept watch on the hotspot sites >15 times between the end of March to the middle of May, until we could find traps or nets. In total, we collected 1,834 limesticks and 19 nets, the somewhat reluctant police arrested 6 poachers in response to our reports. 91 Birds could be freed from traps and nets. As always, the German Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) has helped us to a great extent in the financing and implementation of the bird protection campaign.

Malta 7.4. - 30.4.2017

CABS team in Malta with the German ambassador, Gudrun Sräga (3rd from the right.CABS team in Malta with the German ambassador, Gudrun Sräga (3rd from the right.Our large bird protection camp in Malta began a week earlier this spring, so our teams could monitor the government-approved spring hunt for quails. In fact, the hunting season was very quiet compared to the previous years – as a result of our work, the illegal hunting of birds of prey, storks and other protected species continues to decline. We were able to film four poachers outside the hunting season, all of them were convicted by the police. Trapping remained a major theme throughout April: our teams were able to report seven active trapping sites with large clap nets and six huge cage traps to the authorities, at least 75 turtle doves were released by the police. Our teams were accompanied by the British BBC naturalist and wildlife presenter Chris Packham, as well as a team from the German/French broadcaster ARTE, and the German Ambassador from Malta, Gudrun Sräga.

Palmarola (Italy) 11.4. - 6.5.2017

Our sailboat to Palmarola.Our sailboat to Palmarola.The uninhabited and protected island of Palmarola in Southern Italy has long been a destination for poachers from the island of Ponza, who sail over for some unperturbed hunting away from the authorities. They illegally catch songbirds with decoys and snap traps and shoot turtle dove and quail outside the hunting season. Because the hunting lobby on Ponza prevented us from normal access to Palmarola, the committee chartered a sailboat this year. The team has been on the ground for three weeks and has completely prevented poaching.

Through covert observations, our team were able to provide evidence to the authorities of equipped hideouts - in two operations the police seized three shotguns, 1,330 rounds of ammunition and 30 snap traps.

Ponza (Italy) 15.4. - 6.5.2017

Keeping watch on Ponza.Keeping watch on Ponza.Together with our friends from the Italian NGO ‘LAC’ - Lega Abolizione Caccia – we have once again conducted a three-week watch on Ponza. The small island off the coast of Lazien used to be one of the focal points of poaching in the central Mediterranean. In the past, we have regularly found hundreds of bird trappers and caught dozens of hunters’ illegally hunting turtle dove and quail. As in other recent years, our members have again occupied the traditional hotspots of migratory bird hunting this spring. In fact, with our presence we were able to reach an almost complete silent passage for the birds migrating over the island. There were single shots and only two short-term active trapping sites for Whinchat.

Calabria (Italy) 23.4. - 7.5.2017

Calabria - seized shotgun, ammunition and shot honey buzzard.Calabria - seized shotgun, ammunition and shot honey buzzard.The hunting of birds of prey has a long history on the Straits of Messina. While poaching has almost come to a standstill on the Sicilian side of the sea, persistent poaching remains a regular occurrence on the mainland around the Aspromonte Mountains in the "Stiefelspitze". However, thanks to the presence of our teams during the main passage of honey buzzards the situation is largely calmed down when compared with other recent years. After witnessing a number of shots at protected species, our teams collected information which led the Carabinieri to convict three poachers - a shotgun, a dozen rounds of ammunition and a freshly shot honey buzzard were seized. A raid by police on the bird market of Messina (Calabria) also a result of our field investigations – resulted in 83 freshly caught goldfinches being seized and set free.

Ischia (Italy) 23.4. To 2.5.2017

Dead Whinchat in a snap trap on IschiaDead Whinchat in a snap trap on IschiaOn the southern Italian island of Ischia there was a joint campaign between ourselves CABS and the hunting wardens of the WWF and the ENPA. Due to the massive presence of birdwatchers it has remained very quiet on the island - only few active trapping sites with traps were found for whinchats and only very isolated illegal shots were recorded. Two poachers were caught at the landing points, in co-operation with the Carabinieri and the State Police; 32 traps were seized; in the refrigerator of one of the perpetrators, the officers found 30 frozen songbirds. The WWF's hunting inspectors found a gigantic trapping net, which had obviously been set up for Orioles. Unfortunately the offender was not caught.

South Tyrol (Italy) 11.5. - 21.5.2017

Seized thrush chick in South Tyrol.Südtirol.Seized thrush chick in South Tyrol.Südtirol.From May 11 to 21, a total of 4 CABS teams were deployed in South Tyrol (Italy) to tackle nest-robbers. The perpetrators steal thrush chicks from the huge orchards to sell them as live decoys to hunters. In the 18,000 hectare area, we found approximately 50 marked nests of song thrushes and fieldfare - together with the regional forest police, we were able to lay in wait, however the two poachers were able to flee. The use in the vast area is particularly difficult because there is still very little information on the procedure of the poachers. The deployment this year, however, has brought us a lot of progress, and above all helped to expand the contacts with the forest police, the carabinieri, the South Tyrolean hunting authority and the fruit growers.