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The Brescia bird protection camp

Anti-poaching patrols in the Southern Alps

WWF game warden with seized traps in BresciaWWF game warden with seized traps in Brescia The province of Brescia, situated in Lombardy between Lakes Garda and Iseo, is by far the worst area for poaching in Europe. Nowhere else on the continent are birds stalked by so many hunters and poachers, equipped with shotguns, nets and traps, as in this region in the Southern Alps.

Consequently CABS and its partner organisations organise a bird protection camp here, the largest of its kind in Europe, every autumn. From the end of September to mid-December some 180 to 200 wildlife and nature conservationists from all over Europe join in the search for illegal traps and nets.

At the core of this action, which has taken place every year since 1985, is a three week CABS operation every October. More than 100 participants collect traps and nets and report trapping sites to the forest police. From the beginning of October to mid-November it is the turn of the WWF game wardens to run their largest operation Italy-wide in Brescia. They run controls on hunters, confiscate weapons, ammunition and hunting bags, and also join in the operations to locate and remove illegal traps and nets. In addition, almost every weekend in autumn, volunteer members of our partner organisation LAC are out and about in the Brescia Mountains and dismantle traps and nets.

In this way, with our support, up to 1,000 traps and 200 nets are dismantled annually in Northern Italy, more than 70 weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and hundreds of decoy birds are confiscated, and more than 50 poachers are brought to justice snares.

A CABS team member frees a Robin from a mist netA CABS team member frees a Robin from a mist netThe large scale operations are complemented by seeking injunctions in the administrative courts against amendments to the hunting laws and inclusion of protected species in the lists of huntable birds by the Lombardy regional government. Since 1997 some 50 officers of the special anti-poaching unit of the forest police are also active in the region. They monitor hunting in the high mountain region and set ambushes for poachers at trapping sites found by CABS teams.

The conservationists from a number of European countries, the game wardens and the Italian participants in weekend operations are all housed in chalets, paid for by CABS, on the shores of Lake Iseo. At the daily operational briefings, which are also attended by the police, operations are planned and tasks allocated to teams. Every year these operations account for up to 2,500 traps and 200 nets that are dismantled and seized, as well as over 70 shotguns and thousands of cartridges. More than 50 poachers are arrested with our assistance.

The number of bow traps (Archetti) collected has decreased markedly over the past few years. This trend is summarised in our report here.

The costs of the annual operations, court cases ans equipment amount to some 18,000 to 20,000 Euros. The money is raised exclusively from private donations, mostly in Germany, and a grant from the Karl Kaus Foundation for Wildlife and Nature

Interested in participation?

CABS volunteer frees a Dunnock from the cageCABS volunteer frees a Dunnock from the cageIf you are interested in taking part in next year’s operation in Northern Italy, click here to learn more about the conditions.