Shock­ing num­bers of birds killed il­le­gally world­wide

Fingal Independent - - LIFESTYLE -

‘The Killing 2.0’ is the ti­tle of a re­port pub­lished by Birdlife In­ter­na­tional set­ting out the re­sults of its in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the il­le­gal killing of wild birds. The 20-page re­port up­dates the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ear­lier re­port pub­lished in Au­gust 2015 that painted a stark pic­ture of the in­ter­na­tional slaugh­ter of feath­ered wildlife.

Wildlife crime, along­side traf­fick­ing in drugs, arms, and hu­man be­ings, has be­come one of the top four largest transna­tional or­gan­ised il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties. The ear­lier re­port found that up to five mil­lion birds per year were be­ing killed in some Mediter­ranean coun­tries.

The Killing 2.0 turns its at­ten­tion to North­ern and Cen­tral Eu­rope and the Cau­ca­sus re­gion. The north­ern prob­lem is not as bad as that found in the Mediter­ranean re­gion. While data were of­ten dif­fi­cult to ac­cess mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to come up with ac­cu­rate num­bers, the re­search team es­ti­mated that 0.4 to 2.1 mil­lion in­di­vid­ual birds per year may be killed il­le­gally mainly for sport or ‘pest’ con­trol.

The prob­lem was not found to be se­vere in Ire­land. The 20 worst lo­ca­tions re­ported for the il­le­gal killing of in­di­vid­ual birds in North­ern Eu­rope, Cen­tral Eu­rope and the Cau­ca­sus were found in six ‘hotspot’ coun­tries: (al­pha­bet­i­cally) Ar­me­nia, Azer­bai­jan, Bul­garia, Ge­or­gia, Ger­many and the Nether­lands.

While the prob­lem was not found to be se­vere in Ire­land, the re­port high­lights that a more ro­bust sys­tem of mon­i­tor­ing is re­quired in Ire­land to ac­cu­rately tackle il­le­gal killing of birds here.

Fail­ure to en­force the laws that ex­ist is an is­sue; 28 of the coun­tries re­cently as­sessed by Bird.

Life are par­ties to the legally bind­ing Bern Con­ven­tion on the con­ser­va­tion of Euro­pean wildlife and nat­u­ral habi­tats, and 19 are also Mem­ber States of the Euro­pean Union, obliged to im­ple­ment its bench­mark na­ture laws, the Birds and Habi­tats Di­rec­tives.

The bird groups most af­fected in terms of ab­so­lute num­bers are wa­ter­birds fol­lowed by song­birds. In Azer­bai­jan alone be­tween 160,000 and 900,000 wa­ter­birds are es­ti­mated to be killed il­le­gally per year. Birds of prey, as well as pi­geons and doves, are also badly af­fected. In­deed, the bird group with the high­est per­cent­age of species af­fected are birds of prey.

In both Cen­tral Eu­rope and the Cau­ca­sus, the lead driver be­hind il­le­gal bird killing is sport. In North­ern Eu­rope the main mo­ti­va­tion be­hind il­le­gal bird killing is preda­tor and so-called ‘pest’ con­trol.

The full Killing 2.0 re­port is avail­able to read on­line at www. birdlife.org

Two White-tailed Sea Ea­gles il­le­gally poi­soned in Ire­land.

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