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Italy bans the bird trapping
The last 92 hunting sites have to be closed in December 2014

Songthrush in a legal roccolo net in LombardySongthrush in a legal roccolo net in LombardyThe Italian government has finally banned the catching of wild birds. The last major trapping installations (known as ‘roccoli’) which were still active in Northern Italy must immediately cease operations. For many years the issue has been raised with the European Union for the blatant breach of the EU Birds Directive. The campaign was initiated by the Italian Organisations LIPU and LAC and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS). Since its inception in 1975, the work against the use of ‘roccoli’ was one of the key campaigns of CABS – with dozens of lawsuits being presented before the courts. EU Environmental complaints, protest campaigns and lobbying we have increased the pressure against bird trapping bit by bit. Of more than 2000 installations operating in the 1960s, by the autumn of 2014 only 92 remained.

In November 2014 the European court in Brussels threatened Italy with a penalty amounting to millions of Euros. “The prohibition of bird trapping in Italy is a huge milestone for the protection of migratory birds,” says Heinz Schwarze – president of CABS. “Both conservationists and animal rights activists from across Europe have fought for decades to get to this moment”.

Blackbird as live decoyBlackbird as live decoyThe Birds Directive adopted in 1979 prohibits all bird trapping within the EU, unless granted under specific licences or exemptions. Until now, the Northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna have continued to authorise the use of the huge roccoli for ‘traditional’ purposes, with around 27 km of trapping networks in use. In recent years, the annual catch of up to 40,000 larks, thrushes and finches had been approved - such species were allowed to be used as live decoys when hunting. In the autumn of 2014, fearing enforcement from the EU, the two regions released only 26,000 blackbirds, song thrush redwing and fieldfare. The EU Commission refers in a statement to the Italian Government that the birds could also be bred in captivity and trapping of wild birds for population restocking was therefore not necessary.

The prohibition of bird trapping is a medium-term result mainly on the shooting hides known as 'capanni'. With this highly effective method of hunting, live decoys are used which, crammed into tiny cages – lure other birds into the sights of the hunters guns. Without legal approval to operate such trapping methods as rocolli the hunters must now rely solely on captive bred birds. Because of the problems with breeding thrushes, larks, the birds are much more expensive and the legal breeders cannot meet demand. So this announcement also presents a threat to the capanni in both the short and long term!