Printer-friendly version

The end of ‘Roccoli’ trapping installations

All Lombardy trapping sites to be closed by the end of 2016

CABS and its Italian partner organisation LAC have campaigned for years against the trapping of birds in large scale installations – the so-called ‘Roccoli’. The government of Lombardy Province has now presented a plan that foresees the closure of the last installation in December 2016

The birds caught in the Roccoli (here a Song Thrush) end up in small cages as decoys for the huntersThe birds caught in the Roccoli (here a Song Thrush) end up in small cages as decoys for the huntersIn the 1960s almost 2,000 Roccoli were being operated in Northern Italy. In these gigantic trapping gardens birds are caught in nets to be subsequently used as decoy birds for hunting from shooting hides. Following the implementation of the EU bird protection guidelines in 1993, most of the trapping installations were closed down. A number still continued to operate in order to provide hunters with the much prized decoy birds. This was made possible by a loophole in the EU legislation that permitted the trapping of birds on so-called “maintenance of tradition” grounds. The result was that every year more than 100,000 thrushes and larks were caught completely legally under state auspices in some 100 Roccoli.

In the past 20 years CABS and the LAC challenged this at times very large scale practice in the courts. On numerous occasions this led to the Roccoli being closed very shortly after their opening. After several environmental complaints to the European Commission, continuous lobbying in Brussels, Milan and Rome, as well as a protest campaign against the use of live decoys in 2012, the government of Lombardy has finally presented legislation that will lead to the end of this form of legal bird trapping. A total of 50 installations may be operated in autumn until the end of 2016, following which a breeding programme is intended to provide decoy birds. The number of wild birds permitted to be caught each year is to be gradually reduced. In 2013 this was 40,950 birds reducing in the following years to 34,125 (2014), 22,750 (2015) and finally 11,375 (2016). As a result of a further complaint by CABS and LAC, the administrative court in Milan has ruled that these numbers are unacceptable and must be significantly reduced.

The other regions – above all Veneto – will have to follow the example of Lombardy. The EC now has set its sights on the problem and will undoubtedly not be satisfied if only a single Italian region stops song bird trapping.

Even though one must be very careful as far as the reliability of Italian politicians is concerned, the resolution to put an end to song bird trapping in Lombardy represents a great success for our long term and sometimes frustrating efforts, We had of course hoped that the Roccoli would be close down much sooner; but the present compromise is bearable. We will continue to monitor closely the progress of this matter in the Italian regions and – if necessary – takes any lapses to court as we have done in the past.