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Brescia protection camp in autumn 2008

Several bird protection camps organised by CABS and its Italian partner organisations are again being conducted in Italy from the beginning of October to mid-December 2008. The season opens with the large scale camp in Brescia, North Italy, which runs from 4 October to 2 November 2008. This will be followed by two camps on Sardinia, an operation on Ischia and several other actions in Southern Italy and in the Naples area.

Rock Bunting used as a decoy: in Brescia the difference between protected and huntable species is not yet clearRock Bunting used as a decoy: in Brescia the difference between protected and huntable species is not yet clearWe will regularly publish information here concerning the progress of the camps and operations. In this way you can keep up to date with the running totals of nets and traps we have dismantled, the number of poachers caught by our teams and how many live decoy birds are given back their freedom.

All these camps and operations are funded by CABS and by the generous aid contributed by the Karl Kaus -Foundation for nature and wildlife (Karl Kaus-Stiftung für Tier und Natur). You too can support us by making a donation towards the costs of our international nature and wildlife protection work. We are very grateful for all support received, however small.

If you are interested in taking part in any of our operations you can read here about the conditions and qualifications for taking part.

Totals for autumn 2008:

  • Bow traps collected: 1,963
  • Snap traps collected: 971
  • Other traps collected:30
  • Nets collected: 112
  • Poachers caught: 57

16 November 2008

During a weekend operation in the Brescia Mountains LAC members located and removed a total of 21 snap traps, 57 bow traps and 6 mist nets. Bird trapping has ceased in most areas due to heavy rain, and snowfall above 1,000 m a.s.l.

02 November 2008

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter bird protection camp came to an end today on 2 November after 4 weeks of operations. Almost all participants have left for home. An Italian team checked a few sites in the upper Val Trompia but found nothing. The end of the camp was marked by snowfall down to 1000 m, which signals the end of the bird trapping season - at least in the mountains.

Robin caught in the netRobin caught in the netSince 4 October 2008 the 72 participants in all found 1,906 bow traps, 949 snap traps, 106 mist nets and 7 other traps. In cooperation with the anti-poacher unit of the state forest police 57 poachers were caught at 56 sites located by our teams. The number of bird traps found was higher than last year (2007). Some 555 % more bow traps were found (2007: 1,231), in the case of snap traps, not a ‘traditional’ hunting method, which were found for the first time in Brescia in 1997, there was a increase of 281 % (2007: 338). Whereas the large total number of bow traps was probably due to some fortunate finds of large scale trapping sites, as well as the good weather we had for operations, the dramatic increase in the use of snap traps is a worrying development. The poachers appear to be changing over more and more to this trap type, which are much hared to find in the difficult terrain because of their smaller size. a positive development is the decrease in mist nets found from 133 in 2007 to only 106 this year. The smaller size of the nets found was noticeable in comparison with previous years, as well as the much smaller number of live decoys used with them. In 2007 we found over 100 illegal live decoys at net sites - this year the total was only 29!

The number of ‘assists’ in the arrest of poachers is higher than ever before. Last year we helped to catch 36 illegal trappers; the total in 2006 was only 29!

01 November 2008

The last 3 days of our large scale CABS bird protection camp were again highly successful. The 14 remaining participants from Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom checked over 30 sites in the Brescia Mountains and found quite a few traps. Altogether 474 bow traps, 20 snap traps and 11 nets were found and, as the forest police operations are over, dismantled. We had a particularly large find in the central Val Trompia where 180 bow traps were found in the course of only two hours - the largest number of such traps we have found this year in a single operation. The 11 mist nets were found in the lower Val Sabbia near the provincial capital Brescia.

On Friday evening, 31 October, a total of 40 live decoy birds seized by the forest police (thrushes, Chaffinch, Brambling, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Robin) were taken to the CABS rehabilitation centre in Modena.

29 October 2008

A total of 14 participants made up the CABS teams the past two days. Operations were made more difficult by the constant rain. As forest police operations are drawing to an end - the anti-poaching unit departs on 31 October - no more ambush sites are being located for them. Instead the teams carried out searches in above all Val Trompia where they found 2 nets, 71 snap traps and 93 bow traps. In Iseo a trap for catching finches alive was dismantled.

Because of the bad weather, and the short time now available to them, the police withdrew their ambush teams from 6 sites and seized the 7 nets, 61 snap traps and 39 bow traps.

In spite of the downpour two poachers were arrested as a result of information provided by us. In Franciacorta near Brescia one poacher was caught red-handed at his 2 nets and some 50 bow traps. He had set up his traps in a scrap yard between old cars and building materials.

In Val Trompia we had a signal success. A CABS team had yesterday found some bow traps within a fenced-in property and showed them to the police today. The police laid in wait and caught a woman at midday as she checked the traps. Subsequently the y searched the garden where, to their amazement, they found a total of 9 nets, 48 snap traps, 20 bow traps as well as 6 snares for cats. In addition some snares for wild boar outside the garden were dismantled. Two dozen live decoy birds were also seized. 27 October 2008 The large-scale CABS bird protection camp is now entering its 4th week and sonearing its end. The past few days were again successful with the 26 participants at present in Brescia kept very busy.

Robin found in a snap trap in the woodlands of BresciaRobin found in a snap trap in the woodlands of BresciaFollowing up on our information the forest police arrested 5 poachers in the past three days. Their haul of illegal equipment included 8 nets and 21 bow traps. The officers searched the house of the poacher with the bow traps and discovered two dozen song birds in his deep freeze.

A trapper who was arrested on Monday near Brescia with 5 nets and live decoys (Robins and Dunnocks) provided a real challenge for the police officers and the CABS team. The small garden, surrounded by a high concrete wall, could only be approached via a drainage chamnnel which, in addition to human sewage from hundreds of households, also contained poisonous industrial waste. The police and conservationists had to wade some 500 metres through piles of garbage, sewage and over slippery stones and steep slopes. The poacher was caught; but we had very odd coloured feet that evening!

Postscript: We have been informed that the police, acting on our information, arrested 2 poachers last week in Val Camonica with 2 nets and 26 bow traps. At 9 other trapping sites 3 nets, 212 bow traps and 77 snap traps were located and dismantled.

24 October 2008

There were few incidents to report for the past few days due to the bleak autumn weather and rotation of forest police units. Four poachers were arrested as a result of information provided by CABS. In the upper Val Sabbia a trapper with 75 bow traps was caught in the mountains - our largest find of such traps this autumn. In the same area 10 years ago we found over 500 bow traps. In a village inn the wine-growing region of Faranciacorta (near Brescia) CABS teams pointed out six gardens to the forest police where nets and traps had been located. The officers arrested three poachers with a total of 3 nets, 31 snap traps and 45 bow traps. The other raids were unsuccessful as the poachers were warned of police activity by neighbours. Nevertheless 17 snap traps and 32 bow traps were seized.

As the police and CABS operations come to a close in a week’s time our strategy has now been altered. Areas in which poachers were caught in the past 3 weeks were checked by the 16 team members and all trapping equipment still present - 4 nets, 89 snap traps and 198 bow traps - were destroyed.

Some eight, easily accessible trapping sites, were left intact for police ambushes.

21 October 2008

We have just had a very successful weekend indeed. Since 18 October we have led the forest police to trapping sites and the arrest of 15 poachers is the result! With a running total for this camp of 44 poachers caught we have already well exceeded our excellent last year’s result of 36 arrested illegal trappers. And the camp is far from over …

In total the police seized 208 bow traps, 48 snap traps, 12 nets and one cage trap from the poachers.

A good haul was made in a suburb of Brescia, where a CABS team found a handful of bow traps and beat a hasty retreat in order not to alarm the poacher. Early the next morning the forest police laid in ambush nearby and caught 2 poachers checking their traps - father and son. During the subsequent search a total of 64 bow traps, 34 snap traps and 2 nets were seized.

CABS volunteers count the traps collected in one single day during the campCABS volunteers count the traps collected in one single day during the campThe arrest of a poacher in the high mountains between Val Trompia and Val Camonica required a good deal of planning and effort. He has set out traps for the past 15 years; but every attempt by the police to catch him red-handed has failed to date. This year a CABS team used their best fieldcraft to locate and approach the traps and then spent hours carefully extricating themselves to their vehicle which was parked at some considerable distance. Two nights later the CABS pathfinders and the police and forest police made a forced march to reach the trapping site, and the police laid in wait from 04:00 to 17:00 hrs until the poacher finally turned up to check his 36 snap traps. It turned out that he had a licence to hunt legally from a nearby camouflaged hide; but his illegal trapping activities have now cost him his licence.

At six small trapping sites CABS teams located and dismantled 2 nets, 60 snap traps and 19 bow traps. Eleven further sites with traps and nets were reported to the police.

17 October 2008

During the past two days (16 and 17 October) our information to the forest police resulted in the arrest of 9 poachers! Some 42 snap traps, 99 bow traps and 4 nets were seized. On 17 October, a CABS team discovered several decoy bird cages, containing Robins, in a garden in lower Val Trompia. The police, who were immediately informed, effected entry onto the garden and confronted the owner. In the garden they discovered two dozen cages containing altogether 16 Robins, and 2 Song Thrushes, Coal Tits, Bramblings and Italian Sparrows respectively, as well as a Chaffinch and a Hawfinch - all covered by a large net. Whilst the police officers were busy in the garden, the CABS team found a further back yard in which seven snap traps were set out, with 5 Robins in cages as decoys. This poacher was apprehended as well.

A further 82 bow traps were found in the central Val Trompia and were dismantled. Seven trapping facilities with nets and traps were shown to the police.

We had a big success in the Lazio province court. In a judgement on a case brought by CABS and their Italian partner organisation Lega Abolizione Caccia, the judges followed our arguments that the hunting of Chaffinch, Brambling, Starling and Meadow Pipit in the Lombardy and Veneto regions contravened EU legislation. The hunting of these species is banned with immediate effect. You can read more on this case here.

15 October 2008

We were very successful the past three days. The 22 Italian and German participants at present in the camp have checked over 30 areas in the Brescia Mountains. The forest police were shown 14 trapping facilities to ambush. At the remaining 6 sites we had to dismantle the 13 nets, 20 bow traps and two traps for capturing thrushes alive as our teams had been spotted by the poachers.

Since 12 October the forest police have caught a total of 8 poachers at sites we have led them to; altogether they have seized 7 nets, 133 bow traps and 285 snap traps. Last Friday the record for the total number of traps found at one site was broken twice! In the lower Val Trompia a CABS team had found some snap traps in a garden and immediately informed the forest police. The poacher was caught shortly afterwards and during the ensuing search the officers found 100 small snap traps, the largest number of such traps ever found in one place in the Brescia Mountains. Because of the extent of the poaching, police also searched the hunter’s house and found, as well as 105 plucked Robins, an illegal weapon and ammunition. The man can now expect to receive a prison sentence.

Shot Song Thrush found during the anti-poaching outingsShot Song Thrush found during the anti-poaching outingsIn the afternoon we received the news that the forest had caught another poacher. Three days before we and discovered 3 snap traps close to his house. The forest police found a total of 176 of the illegal traps - a new record in a short space of time. The traditional, home-made bow traps are evidently being replaced by these modern mass-produced traps.

In a garden near Brescia a CABS team found 30 unringed live decoy birds, including Dunnocks, which were all confiscated.

12 October 2008

The second half of the first week of our large bird protection camp was extremely successful. In beautiful autumn weather the 29 participants monitored over 50 areas in Val Trompia, Val Camonica and Val Sabbia and located 28 trapping facilities for action by the forest police. In the early morning hours police officers took up concealed positions at 21 of these locations and in the period 8 to 12 October 12 trappers were arrested. During the operation 96 snap traps, 48 bow traps and 9 nets were seized.

A poacher in upper Val Sabbia, who had set up 11 snap traps, 20 bow traps and 2 nets in his garden, was so furious when a woman police officer in civilian clothes sprang over his fence, that he attacked her. He will now face charges of offering resistance to a police officer, if not attempted bodily harm. Another poacher, who took to flight as he was surprised at his trapping facility with 12 bow traps north of Brescia, fell down a slope and is being treated for his injuries in hospital.

In five areas, where there was no possibility of concealment for the police, a total of 34 snap traps and 4 nets were dismantled and removed.

On 9 October the forest police handed over a Common Buzzard shot in the Brescia Mountains and injured in the right shoulder. The bird was immediately taken to the CABS rehabilitation station near Modena. It will probably survive.

7 October 2008

WWG game wardens show the birds just seized from a poacherWWG game wardens show the birds just seized from a poacherThe large scale CABS bird protection camp in Brescia began on Saturday 4 October with the arrival of the first participants. Some 21 bird conservationists from Germany, Italy and the UK have been out on operations since Sunday.

In the first few days we deployed 5 to 6 teams to check above all the well known locations in the Brescia Alps. We concentrated on 36 trap and net locations where poachers were caught red-handed by the forest police last year. We were pleased to establish that all were abandoned, without a trace of traps or nets.

Further searches did however turn up something. In the first four days of operations we were able to lead the forest police to two locations in Val Trompia and Val Sabbia - both poachers were caught within 24 hours (one with 13 the other with 29 snap traps). In addition 3 nets and 5 bow traps were found and removed. Five other locations (three with bow traps and one with snap traps and a net) we left undisturbed for the police who will be led to the locations by our teams in the next few days.

The police were also very successful the past few days. In upper Val Sabbia they apprehended a poacher at a large trapping facility with 60 metres of mist nets and almost 100 live decoy birds. These included not only (as usual) Chaffinch, Brambling, Siskin, Dunnock and Robin; but also a dozen Crossbills, some Meadow Pipits, a Garden Warbler and a Waxwing! The birds were taken by a CABS team to the wildlife rehabilitation station of our partner organisation CSA in Modena. The police also found more than 100 dead birds in the poacher’s deep freeze; including many Robins and Siskins; but also a Wryneck, Red-Backed Shrike and four Nutcrackers.

A further poacher was charged with shooting a Tawny Owl after a tip from the public, and a legalised large lark trapping facility belonging to Brescia province was closed down by the police as the trapper appointed by the authorities was caught using an illegal electronic lure with Skylark calls!