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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Whinchat killed in a snap trap

In southern Italy, snap traps are set up to catch whinchat
In southern Italy, snap traps are set up to catch whinchat

Snap traps are relatively modern traps and have only been known in Italy since the beginning of the 20th century. They function in much the same way as a mousetrap: two metal arches are held in tension by a finely balanced catch mechanism and a strong spring. The catch mechanism is baited with a grub or rowan berries. If a bird touches it, the bows strike and kill the bird. The impact traps are laid out on the ground or mounted in the bushes. 

Depending on the season and the region, different birds are caught with the traps. In spring they are mainly used on the southern Italian islands - above all Ponza and Ischia. They are set up in vegetable gardens and vineyards - their victims are long-distance migrants such as whinchat, wheatear, redstart and nightingales. 

In northern Italy - especially in Brescia - there are two trapping seasons: In August the poachers set up the traps specifically to target Pied Flycatchers. On the other hand, in October, the same traps are used almost exclusively for robins. However, many dormice, hedgehogs and fire salamanders also end up as "by-catch" in the indiscriminate traps set up on the ground.

During our bird protection camps on Ponza, Ischia and in Brescia we regularly collect about 500 snap traps every year - in the 1990s there were still thousands!