Printer-friendly version

Persecution of raptors

Poison, traps and lead shot against birds of prey

The Red Kite is strongly affected by poisoning in Germany (© Thomas Kraft/Wikimedia Commons)The Red Kite is strongly affected by poisoning in Germany (© Thomas Kraft/Wikimedia Commons)Although all birds of prey in Germany are - as all wildlife - still formally included in hunting legislation, they receive strict protection under German and European Union nature protection laws and it has not been permitted to hunt them since the 1970s. Some hunting functionaries are far from happy with this situation and miss no opportunity to label raptors as alleged pests for small game. They win support from the ranks of the pigeon-fanciers, for whom the recovery of Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk populations has long been a thorn in the flesh.

Pigeons and doves, favoured prey of hunters, are of course part of the diet of some indigenous birds of prey. Pheasants hand-reared for shooting, and often as tame as domestic chickens, are a favourite prey of the Goshawk. Some hunters have now accepted the feathered competition as a necessary evil. Nevertheless, leading hunting periodicals still plead for a hunting season for raptors.

This is not acceptable of course under European nature protection legislation. Only Germany’s southernmost state Bavaria has to date blatantly ignored the EU bird protection guidelines and permitted the annual killing of hundreds of Goshawks and Buzzards. Elsewhere the perpetrators find their own way around the law. CABS members still continue to find traps, poisoned bait and shot raptors in the lowlands north of the central German mountain range, which are rich in small game. Steel plate traps, usually mounted on fence posts and baited with pieces of meat, are a common method used for illegal raptor trapping. When a Raptor tries to snatch the meat with its talons the trap snaps shut, often cutting off the bird’s feet completely.

CABS member with poisoned Red KiteCABS member with poisoned Red KitePoisoning is an equally cruel method. Goshawk cage traps at least catch the birds alive and mostly unhurt; although in the end they are killed by the trapper .

Offenders can be pretty sure of not being caught. Even when poisoned bait and traps are put out directly adjacent to the pheasant runs, the owner denies any knowledge of them. The persecution of raptors has however decreased significantly in many areas since CABS has attacked these practices and offered a large reward for information leading to the arrest of offenders.