Derogations in the EU
Derogations confirm the rules - unfortunately also in bird protection. The basic bans on bird-trapping, hunting during the breeding season and during the birds' return migration to their breeding grounds (spring hunting) are often worked around with regional and national derogations under national law in certain member states.
Exemptions to preserve tradition
The EU Birds Directive allows exemptions from the overarching if it appears necessary for an authority to "preserve tradition". It is easier to obtain derogations for the 82 huntable species listed in Annex II of the EU Birds Directive than for the fully protected species. A permit can only be granted if there is "no other satisfactory solution" and if only "small quantities" of birds are affected.
However, this loophole unfortunately opens the door to the erosion of the EU Birds Directive. It neither defines what a 'tradition' is nor what a 'small quantity' is. Thus, pro-hunting politicians and authorities like to interpret the question of "no other satisfactory solution" to the benefit of hunters and bird trapping. By proving that the derogation is full of holes and violations it can and should be unequivocally revoked.
A good example is the approval of different types of traps in several departments of France. The argument is that this is a tradition and for bird trappers who want to catch birds, there is no satisfactory solution other than to use these old trapping methods. An example of the rejection of such a derogation application can be found in Italy, where the trapping of thrushes with nets has been banned following a lengthy campaign by CABS. The argument is that you can breed thrushes in captivity, so there is therefore another satisfactory solution.
The following applies to all hunting-related exemptions from the EU Birds Directive: Trapped or shot birds may not be used commercially.
To find out what the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is doing to prevent these exceptions from becoming excessive, click here.
Exemptions in agriculture
In the case of damage in agriculture, forestry or fishing, the authorities may grant exemptions from the prohibitions of the EU Birds Directive. The respective national nature conservation and/or hunting laws allow for this possibility.
Exemption permits for the 82 huntable species listed in Annex II of the EU Birds Directive are relatively easy to obtain; in comparison with the hurdles for the other fully protected wild bird species.
Typical examples of such permits are the permit to hunt starlings in fruit cultivation in Italy (although the starling is not huntable in Italy, but is nevertheless listed in Annex II of the Directive) or the permit to hunt wood pigeons in vegetable cultivation in Germany during the breeding season (the wood pigeon is also listed in Annex II of the Directive).
In many cases it must be critically questioned whether the reasons given for these exceptions and general licences can really be substantiated. It is often suspected that hunters are only looking for a reason to shoot more birds and that farmers use these loopholes as a smokescreen.