Illegal killing, catching and trade of birds know many causes. These are the most important ones:
- Pet (trade)
- Bird (Raptor) persecution
The ways birds are caught or killed illegally are quite different depending on the purpose. For consumption they can be caught in a way they end up dead, for pet(trade) the birds need to stay alive. With persecution of birds offenders always aim to kill the bird. In most of these cases this is also an animal cruelty offence (poisoning and using leg-hold traps).
The six most common ways to illegally catch, kill or trade birds (Modus operandi) are discussed below.
There are many different traps to catch birds and most of them intend to catch the bird alive for pet trade. Most of the cages use life decoys to attract wild birds. In some case also sound devices are used.
Video of a live bird trap:
2. Trade wild birds wearing false rings
Most EU MS forbid trade in birds from the wild by law, except when they are bred in captivity. To prove captive breeding a seemless closed footring is mandatory and this why fraud with manipulated rings takes place. Wild caught birds are then sold as captive bred. The size of the seemless closed ring and codes on the ring are indications for misuse of foot-rings.
After illegal catching wild birds, offenders put on oversized of manipulated ring on the wild bird intended to give the impression it had been bred in captivity. In some occasions even wild nestlings are ringed in the nest (within 10 days after birth) and attached to the nest to prevent fledge.
3. Mist nets
Mist nets, used to capture wild birds, are typically made of nylon or polyester mesh suspended between two poles. When properly deployed in the correct habitat, the nets are virtually invisible. Mist nets have shelves created by horizontally strung lines that create a loose, baggy pocket. When a bird hits the net, it falls into this pocket, where it becomes tangled. The mesh size of the netting varies according to the size of the species targeted for capture. Mesh sizes can be measured along one side of the edge of the a single mesh square, or along the diagonal of that square. Measures given here are along the diagonal. Small passerines are typically captured with 30–38 mm mesh, while larger birds, like hawks and ducks, are captured using mesh sizes of ~127 mm. Net dimensions can vary widely depending on the proposed use. Net height for avian mist netting is typically 1.2 – 2.6 m. Net width may vary from 3 to 18 m, although longer nets may also be used. A dho-gaza is a type of mist net that can be used for larger birds, such as raptors. This net lacks shelves.
The use of mist nets is allowed for research purposes, but only with a permit. These requirments vary according to a EU Member State’s wildlife legislation.
This video shows of the use of mist nets for research purposes:
4. Poisoning and leg-hold traps Birds of Prey
These two types are used for the persecution of birds of prey, whereby either the prey is poisoned or the prey is put in a leg-hold trap. Both methods are illegal and should lead to an animal cruelty offence. Birds of prey are often seen as competitor for game species.
- Bird Poisons: A Violent, Painful Death
- Hundreds of birds of prey are being shot or poisoned in UK
- Hunter under investigation for poisoning birds of prey in Friesland
5. Glue sticks
Glue or limesticks are a simple but particularly cruel and indiscriminate method of trapping birds. ‘Twigs’ are covered with a sticky ‘lime’ or ‘glue’ (in Cyprus trappers traditionally used a concentrate made from boiled Syrian plums) and are placed wherever birds can be tempted to perch. This could be in natural vegetation like bushes or trees.
Hundreds of limesticks may be placed in a single garden. For example: In Spain it’s estimated that trappers catch more than 2 million birds every year using limesticks in more than 2,000 trapping sites – building huge ‘garden’ installations called “Barraccas” in Catalonia or “Paranys” in Valencia.
Video use of glue sticks:
6. Shooting (poaching birds)
Shooting, or a better word is poaching (because it is an illegal way of hunting) appears in several EU MS. It happens during a legal hunt (sometimes by accident) but also by poachers for food or taxidermist reasons.