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Hunting of protected migrant birds

Lombardy, Tuscany and Veneto permit hunting of finches

Brambling and the gun shot shell used to kill it. For north Italian hunters this bird represents the joy of going huntingBrambling and the gun shot shell used to kill it. For north Italian hunters this bird represents the joy of going huntingBecause the populations of thrushes and larks have declined in many regions, and have for some time failed to meet the hunters’ perceived requirements, some regions in Italy have again decided, shortly before the start of the hunting season, to permit the shooting of protected species.

This year the situation is worse than ever. For the autumn hunting season in 2009 the Italian regions of Lombardy, Tuscany and Veneto will permit for the first time, in addition to Chaffinch and Brambling, the hunting of Meadow Pipit and Hawfinch, which are also strictly protected under EU legislation. From 1 October, in Lombardy alone, the killing of altogether 497,350 Chaffinches, 94,600 Bramblings, 50,000 Meadow Pipits and und 32,000 Hawfinches.

All the finch species, as of course the Meadow Pipit, are protected in accordance with the EU bird protection guidelines. Granting permission to shoot them is therefore unlawful. Italian constitutional courts, from the regional chambers to the Supreme Court in Rome, have declared earlier amendments to the hunting laws illegal, and even the ECJ has long ago condemned Italy for this continual contravention of the bird protection guidelines.

Nonetheless, regional politicians choose to totally ignore national and international law. The new expanded amendments could herald a worsening situation for wildlife as, if threatened or uncommon species such as the Meadow Pipit or Hawfinch are not safe from the depredations of the hunters, other species could soon follow. CABS has sent details of all current special exceptions and permissions to Brussels and appealed for swift action. The European Commission must take a clear stance against these amendments to hunting laws affecting protected species; otherwise they will risk the complete undermining of the bird protection guidelines.

Our press release of 30.09.2009 on this matter can be read here...

Postscript: November 2009- EC starts process against Italy

The Hawfinch, now huntable under the new derogationThe Hawfinch, now huntable under the new derogationIn September 2009 CABS filed an official complaint with the European Commission with regard to the hunting of protected bird species. The EC has now reacted. On 20 November the Environmental Directorate in Brussels announced that they had filed an urgent complaint with the ECJ concerning the authorisation granted by three Italian regions for the hunting of Meadow Pipit, Hawfinch, Chaffinch and Brambling.

In an Italian government cabinet meeting two weeks ago, where the constitutional validity of regional legislation was reviewed, the opportunity to withdraw the amendments to the hunting laws was not taken as the ministers involved avoided discussion of the matter.

If the ECJ finds Italy in breach of EU legislation a severe financial penalty could be imposed.