Limesticks, nets and illegal hunting in Greece
Around 175,000 hunting licence holders are registered in Greece. 32 bird species are officially authorised for shooting - from chukar and quails to golden plovers, lapwings and five songbird species (blackbird, fieldfare, redwing, mistletoe and song thrush). Unfortunately, there are no data on the annual bird hunting population, but it is very likely to be over two million birds.
Poaching is widespread. The use of nets in the north (mainly in the Rhodope region) and of limesticks on the Aegean islands (mainly in the east near the Turkish coast) is known. The traditions are similar to those on Cyprus. The birds are caught for the kitchen, but also for the pet market.
A major problem is illegal hunting with shotguns in Greece. Reports of rampant songbird hunting - especially on the mainland - are frequent. Either protected species are shot or the respective daily limits are clearly exceeded. Spring hunting, which is banned throughout the EU under the EU Birds Directive, is also widespread. On the Ionian islands - located off the west coast of Greece - this spring hunting of the now Europe-wide endangered Turtle Dove and other endangered migratory bird species takes place, with a focus on the popular holiday island of Zakynthos. The use of electronic decoy systems is also documented, as is the prohibited sale of shot birds to restaurants.
The information we have on poaching in Greece is relatively vague. In addition, we do not have a partner association that deals with the issue. This means that we cannot easily verify information about bird trapping or bird hunting that we receive. CABS is currently collecting information in order to gradually get an overview of the hotspots of poaching. The first small-scale CABS operations have been taking place since 2022 on the islands off the west coast of Greece.