Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V.
Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

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'Horsehair snares' for thrush trapping

End of the line: Blackbird killed in a horsehair snare in Sardinia
End of the line: Blackbird killed in a horsehair snare in Sardinia

'Horsehair snares' have been in use since the Stone Age. The trapping method is as simple as it is insidious: hair from a horses tail (or a nylon thread) is used to make a wafer-thin loop, which is positioned next to fresh rowan berries. If a bird attempts to take the bait, the noose falls over its neck and the frightened bird then tries to fly away. The loop closes and strangles the bird - the term "throttling" comes from this hunting method, which is mainly used to catch thrushes. In fact, however, countless titmice, robins and finches also get caught in the cruel traps.

Horsehair snares once existed all over Europe, today they can only really be found in the Ardennes of northern France, in the south of Sardinia and in Abruzzo (central-eastern Italy). 

In Sardinia, poacher gangs line entire mountain slopes with these snares. The native strawberry trees here fruit in the winter and offer a abundant food source - and so thrushes prefer this area as a wintering area. With the snares positioned in the strawberry trees or attached to the ground, the trappers catch and kill many blackbirds, redwing and song thrushes; also robins and blackcaps.

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and our partner associations have been running bird protection camps in Sardinia since 1995. With success: While in the first years we often collected more than 10,000 horsehair snares (in 2004 there was a "record" of 22,130!); nowadays there are seldom more than 500 during one operation!

The snares in Abruzzo, which are set up on the ground in alpine vegetation, have also largely disappeared. During field investigations in 2015, CABS staff did not find any active trapping sites in use.