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Wildlife gathering dust on the shelf

Protected passerines i a private collection in ItalyProtected passerines i a private collection in ItalyEvery year several thousand wild birds and animals end up gathering dust on shelves in the living rooms of hunters or supposed nature lovers. Whether the trophies are mounted antlers, beautifully prepared pelts as wall-hangings, or completely stuffed and mounted birds and mammals, the wildlife trophy industry continues to boom among Germany’s 300,000 hunters.

Whether or not a hunter really needs to hang his ‘souvenir’ over the fireplace is a matter of taste – it is not forbidden by law. Nevertheless many taxidermists sell the complete spectrum of Germany’s wildlife under the counter. These include indigenous song birds, woodpeckers, owls and raptors, as well as squirrels, dormice and hedgehogs. All of them are protected – or at least their sale is forbidden. Where they originally come from is in most cases impossible to prove. Some may have died a natural death, others are selectively shot or hunted to be stuffed and sold as trophies.

CABS has carried out research in this gray zone world of the taxidermists and discovered that many such businesses, when looked at more closely, often carry out illegal work.

Stuffed nightjar(© Opencage/wikimedia commons)Stuffed nightjar(© Opencage/wikimedia commons)Information provided by us to the species protection authorities or the police and customs services have already led to dozens of searches and prosecutions. As a result most taxidermists nowadays are very suspicious of new customers, which demonstrates the success of our methods. Their illegal business is now only conducted with clients known to them personally. As a consequence profits have fallen and there is a constant fear of checks by the authorities.

Our efforts to curb illegal taxidermy is dependent on donations. If you want to support us in this aim please help with a donation