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Press release 23.11.2011

Shocking video shows massacre of migrating birds in Italy

Thousands of song birds killed within only a few hours by hunters

Italian hunters stage a migrant bird massacre on the San Zeno Pass in October 2011Italian hunters stage a migrant bird massacre on the San Zeno Pass in October 2011Bonn/Milano. Bird lovers throughout Europe are still in a state of shock after watching a video of Italian hunters shooting down several thousand song birds in front of protesting bird conservationists. The hunters were completely undisturbed by the filming of this almost unbelievable massacre of migrating song birds. The ugly spectacle took place some 1,400 m above sea level on the San Zeno alpine pass - one of the most important migration corridors in the Southern Alps.

On a number of days in October, members of the Bonn-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the League for the Abolition of Hunting (LAC) from Milan, literally risked life and limb by placing themselves between the hunters and the huge flocks of birds migrating through the pass. The hunters spared no thought for the safety of the conservationists but continued to blast away at the birds without restraint. CABS member Andrea Rutigliano vividly describes the situation: “It was a completely surrealistic situation. More than 1500 shots were fired hourly. Dead or badly injured birds littered the ground. Some of the birds hit fell directly into our group of observers and shotgun pellets rained down on us continually”.

Shot Hawfinch - a voctim of the unbridled shooting on the San Zeno PassShot Hawfinch - a voctim of the unbridled shooting on the San Zeno Pass The shooting orgy, in which some 100 hunters took part, was filmed by the conservationists on video. The game rangers present estimated that at least 10,000 Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches, Bramblings and Hawfinches were killed. CABS today published sequences from the original film, several hours in length, on its Youtube channel. The film can be viewed at "Youtube: Zugvogelmassaker am Colle San Zeno" and shows in great detail the brutal killing of thousands of birds on passage through a single alpine pass in the course of only a few hours. “One’s head spins when one thinks that in Lombardy alone there are hundreds such passes, more than 86,000 hunters, and that the season lasts for several months” Rutigliano comments resignedly.

Graziella Zavalloni, LAC president, goes further: "The real scandal is that no one can be called to account for this disgraceful abuse of nature". Although the hunting of these four species is forbidden by EU legislation, the regional government in Milan has again this year added a special clause to the hunting law permitting the shooting of pipits and the three finch species. “This is a blatant contravention of the bird protection guidelines” Zavalloni states.

Without any consideration for danger to the conservationists the hunters blazed away at the flocks of migrating song birdsWithout any consideration for danger to the conservationists the hunters blazed away at the flocks of migrating song birds This view is shared by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, which in July 2010 condemned Italy for lifting the hunting ban on these species. CABS today announced that it will present a further environmental complaint to the European Commission based on the evidence filmed at the San Zeno Pass which will be forwarded to the Environment Directorate. In parallel CABS calls upon all bird and nature lovers to protest to the new Italian government in Rome against this annual massacre in the Southern Alps.

An email to the new Italian Minister for the Environment can be sent here >>

Contact. for more information and video material Komitee gegen den Vogelmord, Axel Hirschfeld (Press Officer), An der Ziegelei 8, 53127 Bonn, Tel. +49 179 480 3805 or +49 228 665521