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Italy - a success story


Trapping on the wane in Northern Italy

Since the decline in the use of bow traps in N. Italy more and more Robins migrate southwards (© nl.wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons)Since the decline in the use of bow traps in N. Italy more and more Robins migrate southwards (© nl.wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons)The Committee (Komitee gegen den Vogelmord) was founded in 1975 to combat the seemingly boundless hunting of migrant birds in Europe. The first project region was Italy and our most comprehensive field operations are still conducted on the Appenine Peninsula. Together with our partner organisations we have achieved a great deal:

  • Many hunters threw in the towel following the marked tightening of the hunting laws. In 1975 more than 2 million hunters were active between the Brenner Pass and Sicily; today the number is considerably less - but there are still 750,000 hunters. Hunting no longer has its former accepted status in society; today the majority of the population are opposed to hunting.
  • In 1992, despite massive protests by the hunting lobby, the parliament in Rome passed a new hunting law that finally implemented the EU bird protection guidelines. Although it is only a compromise - six song bird species are still legally huntable - it is nevertheless a milestone on the way to better bird conservation. The number of birds shot annually in Italy sank from an estimated 30 million to some 20 million.
  • Although the sale of birds shot by hunters was banned in 1992, song birds were still to be found on the menu in many North Italian restaurants. At the end of the 1990s, together with game wardens and the police, CABS organised raids on restaurants. This action was successful and today song birds are seldom on offer in restaurants.
  • Since the mid-1990s the Italian forest police has deployed a special unit to combat poaching. Over the years this unit has developed into a hard-hitting and very committed force, unique in Europe, that has had great success in combating poaching. Many of the CABS operations in Italy are closely coordinated with the forest police n other responsible authorities.
  • Since the mid-1990s, CABS and its partner organisations have managed every year to convince the courts to declare null and void the illegal regional permissions to hunt protected bird species. Although it is an uphill struggle which has to be fought anew each year, the courts’ decisions rescue the lives of hundreds of thousands of birds. This lays the foundation for an ultimate ban on the hunting of protected bird species.
  • In the 1970s there were more than 2,000 state run and therefore legal mass trapping installations in Northern Italy, each the size of a football pitch and with hundreds of metres of nets. The new laws passed in 1992 forced them to close; but special permits are granted that enable some 50 of them to re-open in autumn. Every year CABS seeks an injunction to have them closed - and is successful on the majority of occasions.
  • After 25 years of CABS bird protection camps the traditional bow traps used in /en/projects/italy/northern-italy-brescia-and-lake-garda|Northern Italy]] are slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past. In 2001 CABS teams dismantled ore than 12,000 of the brutal traps; in 2009 the figure was only 2,000. Of an estimated 300,000 traps set out in the 1980s only less than 10 % of this number are used today. As a result fewer Robins die on their passage to the south.
  • On Sardinia, in the areas where we conduct bird protection camps, poaching is noticeably on the wane. In areas where more than 20,000 horsehair snares were found each year in the 1980s less than the half are to be found today. The use of nets on Sardinia is also declining. In 2005 our teams found more than 100 nets in the course of a single week; in 2009 not a single net was found.
  • After 15 years of costly CABS operations, the use of small snap traps in spring along the south Italian coast has come almost to a standstill. Only a dozen or so poachers still set out these treacherous traps where many thousands of them were to be found up until the end of the 1990s. We will catch these remaining poachers as well sooner or later!
  • In the course of the annual CABS bird protection camps in Italy more than 15,000 traps and over 150 mist nets are dismantled and confiscated. Hundreds of illegally kept decoy birds and countless trapped wild birds are freed and released into the wild. Thanks to our camps, during which complete mountain slopes are cleared of traps and nets, thousands of song birds survive.