Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V. Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)
Illegal bird hunting in Italy
In hardly any other EU country is the line between licensed hunters and criminal poachers as blurred as it is in Italy. Almost three-quarters of all poachers convicted have a hunting licence.
In addition to the use of illegal nets and traps, the shooting of protected songbirds is particularly widespread. A whole range of species are frequently targeted: On the one hand, there are finches such as goldfinches, siskins, hawfinches as well as brambling and chaffinches, which were huntable before the new hunting law came into force in 1992. Many hunters still regard these species as wild game and continue to shoot them in the name of "tradition". They are also often kept illegally as living decoys.
In addition to finches, robins, dunnocks, pied flycatchers, waxwing, reed bunting and wagtails are widespread victims of poaching. The shot songbirds are destined for the kitchen.
There are two primary reasons for the illegal poaching of birds of prey in Italy: In the south of the country - especially in Calabria - the shooting of honey buzzards or marsh harriers is still perceived as some kind of masculinity ritual. In the remote mountain villages of Aspromonte flocks of migrating birds of prey are regularly massacred. In northern Italy, buzzards, sparrowhawks and goshawks are targeted by hunters in their 'Capanni' hunting hides because they are often attracted by the presence of so many live decoys. Some hunters fear that the presence of the birds of prey will deter the migrating songbirds and so they mercilessly kill any bird of prey they lay eyes on.
The hunt for northern bald ibis is particularly tragic. The Ibis out in Europe in the 17th century through over hunting. In southern Germany and Austria there have been various reintroduction projects for the last 20 years or so. In autumn, the handful of successfully breeding birds move to northern and central Italy, where they continue to be the victims of poachers. On the other hand, in the Po Delta, the hunters shoot many protected species such as barnacle geese and endangered ferruginous ducks which are fully protected in Italy.
In addition to hunting protected species, hunting outside the open hunting season is also an issue. Particularly in southern Italy, in spring, when the hunting of migratory birds is banned throughout Europe, turtle dove and quails attempting to return to their breeding areas are illegally shot. For these hunters, the hunting season for both species in autumn is evidently not sufficient to satisfy their bloodlust.