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Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

Press release

Thursday, 5 September 2013

France: Police and local authorities stop Ortolan Bunting protection camp

CABS announces intention to take legal action and send new team

The legality of the expulsion of CABS volunteers - EU citizems - is highly questiuonable!The legality of the expulsion of CABS volunteers - EU citizems - is highly questiuonable!The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) today sharply criticised the ‘expulsion’ of seven of its members from the French Département Les Landes and accused Préfet Claude Morel of using all means to stifle the protests of critics of the illegal poaching of the Ortolan Bunting. “Our members have broken no laws but have simply recorded and reported large scale animal cruelty and species protection criminality. Instead of taking action against the law-breakers, the authorities have obstructed the actions of the conservationists and thereby made themselves accomplices of the criminals” comments CABS President Heinz Schwarze in a statement today.

Schwarze describes the expulsion of the seven CABS volunteers from Les Landes, ordered by the Préfecture, as a renewed politically motivated attempt to stifle opposition to illegal Ortolan Bunting trapping. “The Saint Sever Gendarmerie today confirmed officially that there are no charges outstanding against our members” Schwarze reports.

According to CABS, a team of international conservation experts, including veterinary surgeons and biologists, had been sent to South-west France at the end of last week to record for the European Commission the illegal trapping of Ortolan Buntings with cage traps. To date 18 active trapping sites with some 150 traps had been located and reported to the police. In only two cases could the authorities be encouraged to take action against the illegal trappers.

The background to the operation is a pending European Commission environmental complaint against France for officially tolerating the matoles, which are considered an illegal hunting method in terms of the EU bird protection guidelines. “We have shown documents to the Commission in Brussels that clearly prove that the French police tolerate the trapping of Ortolan Buntings and do not follow up complaints against offenders” states Dr Andrea Rutigliano, coordinator of the Les Landes operation. “The events of the past few days have shown more than once that the authorities deliberately protect the poachers from prosecution”. France on the other hand has always assured the European Commission that it monitors compliance with the bird protection guidelines and talks of a “zero tolerance” policy against Ortolan Bunting trappers.

The Ortolan Bunting is one of the birds species afforded special protection throughout Europe and is on the verge of extinction in several EU states. In some countries such as Britain, where individuals still appear they are treated as an extreme rarity. According to CABS illegal trapping in France is one of the main reasons for the decline in European populations.

The organisation announced that it will send new activists to the Les Landes region this weekend and will take legal action against the expulsions. “We will neither let ourselves be intimidated nor illegally expelled” Rutigliano stated.

Contact for more information and photographic material:

Axel Hirschfeld, CABS Press Officer, An der Ziegelei 8, 53127 Bonn Tel.: +49-228-665521 oder +49-1794803805, Email:,