Call for the annulment of relaxation of bird protection law

23 December 2020

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In early December, a serious relaxation of bird protection law was voted through by the House of Representatives, undermining a 20-year effort to protect migratory songbirds from being illegally killed in Cyprus. We've just launched a petition calling for its annulment: 

With this recent law amendment, the on-the-spot fine for the offence of illegal killing (using limesticks or a shotgun) of up to 50 birds on a list of 14 protected non-game species was reduced from €2000 to €200 only. These 14 songbird species “happen” to be the target-species of trappers and poachers, also known as “ambelopoulia”. 

The absurdity of the new law
The proposal to reduce the fine was tabled by the Game and Fauna Service, who claimed that higher fines were not enforceable and that a lower fine would be more “effective”. We have to ask: if there was indeed a problem with enforcement of the existing (higher) fines, why was the proposal only for this specific offence (limesticks/shooting) and for only these specific species?

It is clear as day that reducing the fine for these 14 target-species constitutes a relaxation of the law and encourages the illegal killing of birds with limesticks or a shotgun. Offenders will essentially be getting nothing more than a “slap on the wrist”.

What we are asking for:
We demand the reversal of this terrible law amendment and restoration of the €2000 fine, for the illegal killing of birds with either limesticks or a shotgun and without any exceptions concerning specific bird species, as is foreseen by the relevant bird protection law for other illegal bird killing offences. We call upon the competent Ministry, MPs and their Parties to restore strict and effective fines - without any exceptions - through a new law amendment. Sign our petition here.

Background: the trapping problem
Bird trapping with mist nets and limesticks is a damaging and non-selective practice that affects over 150 species of birds, mostly migratory. The main killing season is autumn, when, according to BirdLife Cyprus’ systematic monitoring programme, hundreds of thousands of birds are illegally killed to be sold as illegal but highly lucrative ambelopoulia "delicacies". These past few years there has been a reduction in bird trapping levels, especially concerning trapping with mist-nets. Unfortunately, this new law amendment constitutes a serious step backwards and undermines 20 years of conservation work.

The 14 bird species
Sylvia atricapillaMerops apiasterFringilla coelebsPasser hispaniolensisPasser domesticus, Erithacus rubecula Sylvia communisMuscicapa striataPhylloscopus collybita, Phylloscopus trochilusAcrocephalus scirpaceus, Acrocephalus schoenobaenusCettia cettiOriolus oriolus.

Sign our petition here.

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