Zypern – 20. 04. 2021
Bird trapping with limesticks is on the rise in Cyprus - CABS
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) reports today that bird trapping with limesticks is on the rise once again in Cyprus.
Studies have shown that less migratory songbirds tend to migrate in spring. Those that do, migrate faster than they do in autumn in order to their breeding destinations. They also carry less fat so are less attractive for the restaurants. Therefore, spring was never observed to be the peak season for illegal bird trapping activity.
This coupled with sustained field investigations and reporting to the competent authorities, CABS teams had previously observed a steady decline in the number of active incidents of illegal bird trapping in recent spring seasons. However, initial findings for this spring (2021) appear to buck this trend.
“Since our teams began monitoring the situation on Cyprus just few days ago, +90% of the historical trapping sites our teams checked were confirmed as active. This amounts to hundreds of limesticks on trees and thousands of feathers on the ground. It is like nobody is disturbing the trappers, when CABS is not searching for them," said Alexander Heyd, CABS Chief Operations Officer.
The decision to dismantle the police Anti-Poaching Squad, which was the only police unit in Cyprus under the MMAD effective in disrupting and preventing wild bird poaching is now bearing its consequences.
Heyd added "It is now clear that the plan drafted by Parliament to introduce higher fines is not worth the paper it is written on, because what has been promised cannot be delivered with ever shrinking pro-active enforcement on the ground.”
The bird protection volunteers found and reported seven active trappings sites on a single day. Four suspects were subsequently caught and issued with fines of 8200€ by the Game and Fauna Service, as any hunting activity outside the official season carries a larger penalty. It should also be noted that bird trapping with limesticks is illegal at any time of the year.
Trappers in Famagusta apparently suffer no economic hardship, if they are readily able to pay such amounts for their bloody hobby; or alternatively, these fines are simply not really being imposed with enough frequency to send any ripples of concern through the illegal trapping community.
Such is the case yesterday (19.4.2021), in Agia Napa, where two bird trappers were caught with a tape lure, 72 limesticks and protected birds. These two men are the same persons responsible for a violent assault against a CABS team in September 2020 close to an illegal bird trapping site. As stated to police last at the time, we observed the limesticks and were ready to call the Game and Fauna Service, when our volunteers, a man and woman, were brutally assaulted by two nearby hunters, who later denied having anything to do with the illegal traps found by CABS. Instead, they falsely accused the birdwatchers of harassment for shooting game species. The fact that the same men were now convicted of illegal trapping on the very same spot should help to courts to assess the credibility of their statements to police last September.
Heyd concludes, "I hope it is now clear who is lying and who is not. These hunters have repeatedly broken the law: trapping birds and assaulting people. Justice is served. But we have no one to thank but ourselves for uncovering the truth.”
If the Cypriot government is not willing or able to tackle the problem, we will exhaust all legal possibilities to ensure that the Republic of Cyprus is in compliance with the European Birds Directive.