Glued, poisoned, trapped, shot – a shocking report reveals enforcement failure at a colossal scale as hunters across southern Europe and the Middle East kill birds with impunity
Wednesday 26 August 2015 14.57 BSTLast modified on Thursday 27 August 201500.03 BST
The Egyptians line their beaches with fine two-metre high nets that can stretch for miles across the Nile delta and will catch any bird coming close; the Maltese will cover whole trees in nylon; the Cypriots smear branches in glue to stop birds flying; the Italians will kill nearly anything that flies and the French like to set metal traps for small birds.
But the sheer scale of the cruelty of the illegal wild bird killings around the Mediterranean which was revealed last week has shocked conservationists and bird lovers across Europe.
According to the first study of its kind, which has attempted to put a realistic number on how many birds are killed illegally each year, possibly 25 million chaffinches, thrushes, robins, quails and many other species are being shot, trapped or poisoned as they migrate to and from mainland Europe.
But what has shocked most is that strong laws have been shown not to be working and are being openly flaunted by hunters. Nearly half the 25m killings occur in EU states where the birds directive applies, and many other Mediterranean countries also ban the hunting of songbirds.
British ornithologist and conservationist Bill Oddie this week blamed hunting groups and complicit bureaucrats for what he says is a massive failure of governments and the authorities to act.
“Around half the birds being killed are in countries where strong laws theoretically protect birds,” said Oddie. “The figures are shocking and it’s getting worse. Hunting groups in many countries are stopping the laws being enforced. Many people in the EU probably know or actually are shooters. People in power like killing things.”