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Stop the Illegal Killing and Illegal Trapping of Millions of Wild Birds

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Ask the governments to protect millions of wild birds and stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping, and illegal trading. Leave a comment (COMMENT=MORE IMPACT)

These wild birds are either:

  • Illegally sold to restaurants or private dealers, at a high price, as an expensive illegal “delicacy” to be eaten
  • Illegally traded and illegally sold as caged pets
  • Illegally killed for fun or sport

The illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of birds extends throughout the Mediterranean, in over 25 countries.

Cruel, illegal methods include bow traps, snare traps, mist nets, limesticks - where birds get trapped in glue, and many other methods, that don't just kill the birds, but often leave them mutilated and in agony. Often with torn wings and separated legs.

Birds include many threatened and endangered species from the IUCN Red List

The birds affected are wide ranging. There are too many to list, but here are a few:

European Robin, House Sparrow, Ortolan Bunting, Eurasian Chaffinch, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Calandra Lark, Eurasian Blackbird, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, European Turtle-Dove, Common Coot, Warblers, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Ringed Plovers, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Wrens, White Wagtail, Bee-eaters, Brambling, Redpoll, Common Buzzard, European Honey-Buzzard, Eagle, Hawk, Common Snipe, Siskin, European Serin, Starling, Thrush Nightingale, Dunnock, and many, many more.

Be it for fun, for sport, for a traditional “delicacy” or to be sold as caged pets, it’s all illegal and the cruel methods of hunting these birds across the Mediterranean needs to be stopped. I’m petitioning for existing laws to be enforced. The legislation is already in place; unfortunately the enforcement of the law is weak.

I am calling on the governing bodies of each of the countries where these practises are common to come together and save our wildlife. This is a matter for both conservation and animal welfare. This issue sweeps across many countries and continents, and we have a duty to ensure that these flyways are safe areas where our wild birds can live and thrive. There needs to be justice for these illegal acts.


Highlighted below are some of the problems from a few countries. 



The illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of approximately 5.6 million migrant and resident birds extends across Italy, from the Brescia Alps down to the Sulcis district in Sardinia.


Northern Italy:


The Brescia Alps, between Lakes Garda, Como, and Iseo, (Lombardy), lie one of the most important European migrant bird flyways. In principle, the authorities have an obligation under national and international law to place this part of the Alps under special protection. Instead however, they just stand by and watch as one of the most important European migration routes deteriorate into a paradise for poachers.

As early as the end of September, countless illegal "archetti" traps – a metal bow with a snare attached – have been set up on the mountain passes. The bright red berries of the mountain ash attract the birds, mostly Robins, Thrushes and Wrens, into the illegal traps, which are propped open under tension with small sticks. Once the bird lands on the trap the tension is released and the trap snaps shut, and the bird - still alive - is trapped in the snare, with both it's legs broken.

They often flutter about for hours until they die of thirst or exhaustion; or until they are collected by the poacher. They are then illegally served as "delicacies" to restaurants and private dealers.


Even though these bow traps have been banned in Italy since the 1950s, thousands of these illegal traps are still found today.

The Italian Government is not doing enough to stop these illegal acts. They need to ACT NOW.




Hundreds of thousands of wintering migrant birds are the victims of an egoistic obsession every year in the south of Sardinia. After dying by strangulation in fine snares they are illegally sold by the poachers at high prices to restaurants and private ‘gourmets’ for consumption.

Those birds that are illegally trapped alive are kept in squalid conditions, trapped in a cage in the dark. To fatten them up, they often have their eyes plucked out while they are still alive, as the pain and stress causes them to eat more than normal.

Robins, Wrens, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Fieldfare and many other species of bird are illegally killed in Italy.

The use of snares is illegal. The trade in the birds is illegal. But in the more isolated regions of the island everybody knows his neighbour and effective controls are rare. The ITALIAN GOVERNMENT needs to ACT NOW and enforce the laws to protect these birds. Only the local forest police attempt to combat the poachers. It is almost impossible to lie in ambush for the poachers on the trapping routes in the impenetrable and extensive woodland, so much so that the officers can only locate and confiscate the snares. In view of the hundreds of thousands of traps this is a never-ending task.


Southern Italy:

The islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea along the south Italian coast, in particular, Capri, Ischia and Ponza, are valuable stepping stones for the migrants returning from Africa. After arriving here in spring, following a demanding flight across the Sahara and the Mediterranean, they are often too exhausted to fly. The poachers are well aware of this.

From the end of March on wards, illegal snap traps baited with mealworms are set out in vineyards, olive groves and gardens. These prove to be the undoing of the starving birds. Species whose populations north of the Alps are threatened with extinction, such as the Nightingale, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear and Common Redstart, die in masses in these small illegal traps. Quails, Turtle Doves and Raptors are also the much sought-after prey of the hunters, who clear their fields of fire by burning off the macchia. Calls from illegal electronic bird lures can be heard at night far out to sea, and these lead the birds into the traps and to the hunters' guns.



From the Brescia Alps down to the Sulcis district in Sardinia, millions of wild birds are being illegally killed, illegally trapped and illegally traded. Illegal “archetti” (bow traps), illegal snare traps, illegal nets, illegal limesticks and illegal electronic bird lures, are being used.

The Italian government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

3.4-7.8 million individual birds are illegally killed each year in Italy.

Italy is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.

See links for more:



Cyprus and British Overseas Territories:

Cyprus is an important migration flyway for birds between Africa and Europe and millions of birds are illegally killed yearly as they migrate over the island. The Famagusta and Limassol districts are some of the worst.  Again many birds are illegally killed and/or caught. More illegal “delicacies” such as Blackcap, Song Thrush, Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, and Common Chiffchaff, are all illegally trapped and illegally sold to restaurants to be eaten. The birds are caught for profit and fuelling the illegal restaurant trade with the traditional delicacy known as ambelopoulia.

Birds are often kept in appalling conditions, illegally trapped in tiny cages. To fatten them up, they have their eyes plucked out while they're still alive. This causes them to eat more than usual due to the pain and stress. 

To protect resident and migratory birds, BirdLife Cyprus and the RSPB survey areas of illegal trapping. More than 150 species of birds, over half of conservation concern, have been trapped in illegal nets, or on illegal limesticks, and it is estimated that organised crime gangs earn over 15 million Euros yearly. The dead birds are sold to provide the main ingredient for ambelopoulia in Cyprus; an illegal delicacy served to restaurant diners.

The 2015 survey estimated 19 km (12 miles) of illegal mist nets across both the Republic and the British Territories, and more than 5,300 illegal limesticks, mainly in the Republic. It is estimated that over 2 million birds were illegally killed in 2015, including over 800,000 on British Territories. (For example Akrotiri and Dhekelia). 

The British Overseas Territories in Cyprus are now among the most severe strongholds for the illegal trapping of wild birds anywhere in Europe. Under the watch of the British military, more than a million songbirds are being caught and killed illegally each year, including many endangered species.

With its massive poaching issue, Cyprus remains a key problem child for wildlife conservation and international protection of migratory birds. By far the worst areas are the UK military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the south of the Mediterranean island. Combined, these areas - considered property of the Crown and Defence Department official British Overseas Territories - equate to just 230 square kilometres of land. Yet each year poachers enter unperturbed, constructing huge illegal trapping installations to illegally catch hundreds of thousands of small birds with huge nets. The birds are caught for profit and fuelling the illegal restaurant trade with the traditional delicacy known as ambelopoulia.

The territories are in a state of complete anarchy, perhaps through fear of gaining a bad reputation as “occupiers”, neither the British Government, British police, nor the military take any action against the highly visible lobbies. By turning a blind eye, they quell any discussion on the return of the territories to Cyprus and from London the situation is seemingly out of sight and out of mind.

Excerpt from CABS website


The Cyprus government and the British government are NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

1.3-3.2 million individual birds are illegally killed each year in Cyprus.

Cyprus is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.

See links for more:





Illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of hundreds of thousands of small birds such as Eurasian Chaffinch, European Robin, Ortolan Bunting and many, many more.

The Ortolan Bunting is often served as a “delicacy”, through tradition and a rite of passage. They are illegally trapped and caged. To fatten them up, sometimes they have their eyes plucked out while they're still alive, as the pain and stress that this causes makes them eat profusely. They are left like this for weeks, in perpetual darkness, and over time once they have fattened up, they are drowned, (often in Armagnac), and cooked. Although this is illegal, it carries on because it is a tradition and the poachers are very rarely prosecuted. Cited as “tolerance”, these illegal and horrific acts continue. Those who do get prosecuted are simply let off with a warning; there is rarely any justice. Considered a gastronomic delicacy a number of well-known politicians have admitted to eating them, even former President of France Francois Mitterand could not resist.

In France, hunting of Ortolan Buntings has been forbidden by law since 1979 and the species was put on the protected list in 1999.  Each year, however about 30,000 Ortolans are trapped illegally during migration, August-September, in the SW France principally in the département of Les Landes using what are called “traditional hunting methods” (matoles or cage traps).


Many other birds are illegally caught in the process. Often European Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Robins, Thrushes, and many other small birds are illegally trapped and illegally killed. 

The French government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

149,000-895,000 individual birds are illegally killed each year in France.

France is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.



LPO (Birdlife France) have set up a letter you can send to the Interior Minister of France. PLEASE SEND HIM A MESSAGE HERE:

See links for more:

In 2013, LPO (BirdLife in France) sent a complaint to the European Commission. In March 2015, the Commission informed LPO that the French government had given a satisfactory reply to their questions, including that it was working with LPO on the issue; and if the NGO had no more evidence, the Commission would close the complaint. LPO immediately sent a dossier with information from the previous poaching season to Brussels. 

LPO has continued sending proof to the Commission that the French government is doing nothing to stop the illegal trapping and that it has convicted very few of the hunters involved. On 16 June 2016, there was some cause for hope. The Commission announced that it had sent a “reasoned opinion” to the French government, which had two months to satisfy the Commission that it was taking action to stop this illegal killing, or else the Commission could bring France before the European Court of Justice. Nothing has come of this.





Located on the southwest edge of Europe, Spain is an important flyway for western migrating birds which cross the Straits of Gibraltar en route to their winter quarters in Africa. The majority of migrants from the British Isles, the Benelux countries and France transit the bathing beaches of the Costa Blanca and Costa Brava twice a year, and almost all water birds that use the Wadden Sea as a rest area, on their way to Africa, cross the Iberian Peninsula.

In the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, in the autonomous regions of Catalonia and Valencia, illegal bird trapping takes place. Every autumn countless thrushes are illegally caught on treacherous lime sticks in more than 2,000 illegal trapping sites - the so-called Barraccas in Catalonia or Paranys in Valencia. Spanish experts say that the Spanish trappers illegally catch more than 2 million song birds annually in these installations, including numerous endangered species.

The ‘Paranys’ are specially cultivated and trimmed illegal trapping-gardens that dominate the landscape between Valencia and Tarragona. Every tree is spiked with hundreds of small illegal limesticks that stick to the birds’ plumage with just the slightest touch, and cause them to fall helplessly to the ground. Unable to move their wings, they then land in a tunnel where the trapper ‘harvests’ them – usually after a long and painful struggle – by strangulation.

Taped bird calls lure whole flocks of night migrants to their deadly fate. This is illegal. This method of trapping has been banned in the EU since 1979. Although the Spanish courts long ago declared the practice illegal, and a judgement of the European Court of Justice ruled, unambiguously, in December 2004 that the installations must be closed down, they are still in use today. The Spanish Government, politicians, the local administration and the police TURN A BLIND EYE to the continued violation of national and international nature protection legislation.

For the first time ever CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) volunteers have managed to film the massacre with low-light cameras. “The material demonstrates that thousands of wild birds are illegally and cruelly killed and that numerous protected and endangered species are among the victims” states CABS President Heinz Schwarze. The video shows Thrushes and Blackcaps squealing and panicking, fighting for their lives among the corpses of their partners. Click to watch the video:

In addition the film shows that, despite a clear ban on such practices, the Spanish authorities take no action against these installations, although these are highly visible and are operated openly by their owners. Schwarze continues “We have informed the police time and again but no one accepts responsibility”. CABS accuses the local government of active complicity in that they tolerate the operation of the installations, hinder the responsible game wardens in their monitoring work and protect the trappers from prosecution. The game wardens are forbidden to work at night – when the installations are active – which rules out any effective form of control. Even when the wardens manage to take a case to court the offenders are let off with no sanctions. In 2013 a trapper was found not guilty by a court in Vignaros because the commonly used bird lime trap he used Il Tordo - was allegedly not capable of trapping protected species!

CABS has announced that it intends to file an official complaint against Spain with the European Commission because of the toleration of mass, non-selective trapping and killing of protected bird species. In order to put pressure on the Spanish authorities, and to urge the authorities to finally take effective action against this breach of European legislation, CABS has started an international protest action.

A prepared email mail text in Spanish (with English translation) and addressed to Valencia’s Environment Minister Isabel Bonig Trigueros is available. PLEASE SEND HER A MESSAGE HERE:



Across the country, from the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, the autonomous regions of Catalonia and Valencia, to Majorca, and the South, many laws are being broken, legislation is being ignored, and Spanish authorities are turning a blind eye to illegal acts.

The Spanish government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

Spain is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.

See links for more:





Illegal bird trapping takes place on Malta and Gozo. The birds are illegally kept as caged birds in dark garages of supposed ‘bird lovers’. Bird trappers also make a successful business out of the illegal capture and illegal sale of wild caught birds, and often live birds from other countries are illegally smuggled into Malta for use as decoy birds for illegal trapping.

Until Malta’s accession into the EU in 2004, bird trapping was permitted as a normal activity. Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Hawfinch, Serin and Linnet were legally trapped using ground horizontal ‘clap nets’.

Despite accession of Malta to the European Union in 2004, Maltese politicians were able to negotiate a generous transition period. With Brussels’ consent, the trapping of 7 finch species was permitted until 2008. As of 1st January 2008, it is illegal to kill and illegal to trap songbirds and finches.

However, finch trapping is being permitted by the ORNIS Committee, a Maltese consultation body, going against the European Commission, who immediately gave Malta a formal warning in Autumn 2014. Despite this the Maltese Government opened the finch trapping season.

In 2014 the finch trapping season ran from October to December with a quota of 12,000 linnets, 800 goldfinch, 4,500 greenfinch, 500 hawfinch, 5,000 chaffinch and 2,350 siskins. 4,168 finch trapping licenses were issued and each trapper had a bag limit of 10 finches per season, each bird having to be reported by sms and ringed with a ‘single use’ ring.

Despite the declaration that the season was to be ‘regulated and restricted’ it was reported that only 25% of finch trappers were subject to spot checks by police or officials. Also it was discovered that the official rings for tagging caught birds could easily be tampered with and removed.

The Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit of the Maltese Police is responsible for implementation of the bird protection laws. Although the great majority of Maltese reject and condemn illegal hunting, effective control by the police is still lacking. The ALE has not been reinforced for years and at best no more than ten officers per shift are available to control more than 15,000 hunters and trappers. A lack of officers on the island of Gozo means Maltese trappers can get away with illegal trapping and illegal killing.


Infringement procedures have been launched by the European Commission against Malta, since there is no scientific justification for finch trapping. As of 1st January 2008, it is illegal to kill and illegal to trap songbirds and finches, yet these activities still take place, due to a lack of enforcement from the Maltese government and authorities.

The Maltese government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

Malta is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.

See link for more:




Germany lags behind as far as species protection is concerned. In Germany, many wild birds, from songbirds to raptors, often including protected species, are illegally trapped and illegally sold as caged pets. This is in violation of European nature protection legislation, and the Federal Nature Conservation Act. Birds are also smuggled in from the tropics or Eastern Europe. There are countless pet owners in Germany who are not satisfied with keeping dogs or budgies; there is a huge illegal wildlife trade problem, involving many wild birds, tortoises, parrots, ducks, tropical insects and many other animals.

The sentencing of the trappers is weak, rarely do the prosecutors give a strong enough sentence. These offenders are often let off and the sanctions imposed are not serious enough to deter other trappers. There is rarely justice for these illegal acts on wild birds. Germany has been reproved on several occasions by the European Commission for inadequate implementation of international environmental regulations.


The German government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

Germany is breaching the laws of the European Union, and could be taken to the European Court of Justice.

See links for more:




Among one of the worst countries for the illegal killing of European Turtle Doves, but also the illegal trapping of European Goldfinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch and Greater Short-Toed Lark, all to be illegally sold as cagebirds.

Greece is also among the top three countries that illegally kill Dalmatian pelican.

Many more species of bird are illegally killed and illegally trapped across Greece for fun or sport, including species listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.

485,000-922,000 individual birds are illegally killed each year in Greece.

The Greek government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.

 See links for more:





Perhaps the MOST DANGEROUS PLACE FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN as an estimated 5.7 million birds are killed illegally each year.

Read here for more info: 

Birdlife Egypt Illegal Killings

National Geographic Document

Video Photographer Covers Songbird Slaughter

There are way too many species of bird to list. Every bird from House Sparrows, Common Coots, Red-Backed Shrikes, Eurasian Golden Orioles, Ringed Plovers, Endangered, Vulnerable, and Critical listed species, are all illegally killed in large numbers. 

The stunning beautiful Golden Oriole is being targeted because its flesh can be sold in Middle Eastern markets where it is regarded as a cure for impotency.

The Egyptian government is NOT doing enough to stop the illegal killing, illegal trapping and illegal trading of millions of wild birds.


There are many more. Here is a list of the main countries: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Overseas Territories, Croatia, Cyprus (Including British Overseas Territories Akrotiri and Dhekelia), Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia FYRA, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestinian Authority Territories, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.

Here are some links to full in-depth reports.

Birdlife Report on Illegal Killings in Mediterranean

Images Showing Extent of Illegal Killings

Birdlife Report Showing Countries and Extent of Illegal Acts

Birdlife Map Showing Illegal Killings

Birdlife Video on Extent of Illegal Killings

Birdlife Official Campaign Website

Donate to CABS to Support Rescue Work in the Field (Committee Against Bird Slaughter)

Donate to Birdlife to Support the Work on Illegal Killings

Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) Official Website

Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) German Official Website

CABS Actions and Projects

CABS in Italy

Italy Illegal Bow Traps

CABS in Spain

CABS in Germany

CABS in Cyprus

CABS in Malta

CABS in France

List of all Birdlife Partners

Committee Against Bird Slaughter Facebook page

Committee Against Bird Slaughter Twitter page

Birdlife International Facebook page

Birdlife International Twitter page

CMS Official


I urge all the people who have the power to please enforce the existing laws.

I ask those who are reading this to support this cause.

If nothing is done, we will all be responsible for the continual suffering and decline of this wildlife.



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