Electronic decoy callers and skylark trapping in Apulia
The coastal plains in the very southeast of Italy - on the "heel" of the Italian boot - lie in the region of Apulia. The area is relatively sparsely populated and the number of police officers involved in nature conservation is as low as the number of conservationists. Hunters have it relatively easy here and hunting violations are rarely dealt with. Two problems are of particular concern: the use of electronic decoy callers for quail hunting and skylark trapping with nets.
During the autumn migration, quails use the plains between Bari and Lecce as a resting area. Hunting of these birds, which are endangered throughout Europe, is permitted in Italy. To make it easier for the reclusive birds to be lured into the path of their shotguns, hunters throughout the Mediterranean region often use electronic decoy callers. With loud quail calls they attract the birds as they migrate at night, and shoot them in the morning by flushing the resting birds with dogs. The method is illegal everywhere, but especially common practice in Malta, Serbia and Apulia. Even in the Gargano National Park, hunters are boldly setting up callers without fear of being reprimanded.
Hunters in northern Italy often use live decoys for skylark hunting. Trapping is forbidden and breeding is very complicated. To meet the demand, poacher gangs have become specialised in catching skylarks. With the help of electronic decoy callers, migratory birds resting in the plains of Puglia are trapped with nets, which are then fitted with falsified rings and transported to northern Italy to be sold on the black market to hunters as lee decoys.
Apulia is one of the most recent operational areas for the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS); with operations against illegal quail hunting starting in 2017. Our goal is to work with the police to convict the perpetrators. Where this is not possible, we dismantle the equipment ourselves.