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Italy’s traditional tragedy

Migrant bird slaughter between the Brenner Pass and Sicily

Shot chaffinches: despite the derogation that allows Italian hunters to kill just a few birds in several years, nobody respects the bag limitsShot chaffinches: despite the derogation that allows Italian hunters to kill just a few birds in several years, nobody respects the bag limitsIn Northern Italy vast mist net installations still block the migrant song bird flyways to warmer climes. The same tragic spectacle repeats itself year after year south of the Alps. No sooner have the autumn migrants crossed the Italian border on their route to Africa, than they fly into a hail of lead from hundreds of thousands of hunters. A total of 36 bird species can be legally hunted in Italy - the majority of them short or long distance migrants such as Skylarks, Song Thrush, Turtle Doves and a variety of waders. The authorities permit each of the 710,000 registered hunters a shooting bag of 30 birds a day on 60 hunting days per year. This results in the death of more than 17 million birds in Italy every year.

In some regions, such as around Lake Garda, on Sardinia, and along the south Italian coast, poaching with traps and nets still takes place.

But over the past few years changes have been taking place in Italy. An increasing number of Italians, most of them young, are opposed to hunting. Many of them have formed action groups which, with the support of CABS, have successfully committed themselves to the cause of improved bird conservation and protection.

Shot goldfinch - a protected speciesShot goldfinch - a protected speciesIn the context of bird protection camps, volunteer conservationists from many European countries monitor the migration routes and, together with game wardens, the forest police the Carabinieri and officers from other responsible authorities, locate and remove illegal traps. Lawyers in Milan and Brescia hired by CABS seek court injunctions for improved bird protection and, in Germany, protest actions against bird trapping and hunting are organised and set in motion.

In Modena our partner organisation the CSA runs Italy’s largest wildlife rehabilitation centre with financial help from CABS.