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Italy: Court bans hunting of song birds

Lombardy and Veneto in breach of EU law

Shot BramblingShot BramblingRome. The Italian supreme administrative court this morning declared the hunting of 5 song bird species protected by EU legislation to be inadmissible and thereby saved the lives of millions of birds. Lawyers instructed by CABS and their Italian partner organisation had presented a complaint to the court in Rome as, in the view of the conservationists, the shooting of these species in the Lombardy and Veneto regions contravenes the EU bird protection guidelines. In today’s hearing before the supreme court in Lazio, the judges followed this argument and declared without further ado the hunting laws passed by the regional governments to be invalid.

As song birds are much desired as a traditional delicacy, the regional governments in Milan and Venice had permitted hunting of the Europe-wide protected song bird from 21 September 2008 onwards. The victims of the amended laws were Chaffinches, Bramblings, Starlings, Sparrows and Meadow Pipits.

This meant that theoretically some 15 million birds - 3 per species, hunter and day in season - could be shot. Even though this has been legally banned from today, the judgement comes too late for many birds.

A Reed Bunting kept in cage: athough illegal this species is often targeted by hunters in BresciaA Reed Bunting kept in cage: athough illegal this species is often targeted by hunters in BresciaCABS President Schwarze complains: “Unfortunately our case was not heard until 3 weeks after the start of the hunting season. Hundreds of thousands of birds were shot before this judgement took effect - with no judicial consequences for the hunters involved”.

In order to combat illegal bird trapping and shooting on the ground, CABS has organised its 25th annual bird protection camp in Brescia province this year, with more than 100 volunteers. The aim of the 4 week operation is to seek and destroy illegal bird traps and nets in the forests of the Alps. .