Bird hunting in Italy
In Italy, around registered 600,000 hunters go hunting. Because larger game such as deer and stags were rare in the past, a strong tradition of migratory bird hunting has developed here. The use of traps and nets is strictly prohibited.
A total of 39 bird species can be legally hunted. In addition to pigeons (including Turtle doves and Collared doves), ducks (e.g. Teal, Garganey and Mallard ducks) and waders (such as Lapwings, Woodcocks and Snipe), five species of songbirds are officially open for hunting: Skylark, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush. In addition, some regions repeatedly permit the shooting of birds that are actually protected by special permits - in particular starlings, book and mountain finches are the victims of this practice, which is highly dubious under EU law.
Unlike in Germany, there are specific daily and seasonal limits for each species. As a rule, they are so high that you can shoot the whole day without ever running the risk of exhausting the limit. The limits vary from year to year and from region to region. Usually they are in the order of 3 woodcocks, 10 skylarks and 25 song thrushes per day. In theory, seasonal limits cap the number of birds that a hunter can kill during the entire hunting season. The number of skylarks is usually 50. So you can shoot 10 skylarks on each of the first five hunting days and then obliged to leave the shotgun at home. However, since inspections largely fail to take place, hardly anyone runs the risk of being caught.
Licensed hunters have to decide whether they want to hunt on foot or from a camouflage hunting hide when they get their licence. If they decide to hunt in camouflage huts, they may also use live decoys.
Shot songbirds and many other species may not be commercially marketed in Italy.
The hunting season normally begins on the 3rd Sunday in September and ends on the 31st January of the following year. For some species (e.g. skylark) the hunting season ends on 31 December. So that the birds have at least a small rest-bite, hunting on Tuesdays and Fridays is prohibited across Italy - one of the few regulations, to which the majority of the Italian hunters actually adhere to.
Illegal hunting is particularly widespread in Italy. In hardly any other EU country is the line between licensed hunters and criminal poachers as blurry as between Brenner in the north and Sicily in the south.
At the CABS bird protection camps in Italy we witnesses hunting violations on an almost daily basis. If we detect the shooting of protected species or the use of electronic decoys during our field investigations, we collect evidence and call the police.