Hirschfeld, A., D. Gevers & A. Heyd (2017): Illegal persecution of birds of prey in Germany 2005 – 2015: Case data, distribution, affected species and enforcement. Berichte zum Vogelschutz 53/54: 43–62. (Summary in English – full report in German)
Despite strict legal protection and high penalties, illegal persecution of protected birds of prey is a common phenomenon throughout Germany, with numerous protected birds falling victim each year. To get an accurate overview of the prevalence, extent and possible consequences of persecutions, the Bonn-based detection and documentation centre for bird of prey persecution and conservation related crime (E.D.G.A.R.) has been monitoring nationwide cases since August 2015. For the years 2005 to 2015, 998 individual cases of bird of prey persecution have become known, including 347 incidents of confirmed or suspected poisoning, 317 incidents of trapping, 205 incidents of shooting, 88 cases of nest destruction or nest disturbance and 41 incidents involving other methods. This equates to a total of 1,445 birds of prey (20 species) and 44 owls (5 species) being illegally killed or injured. The most affected species were Buzzard (805 victims), Red Kite (156), Goshawk (136), Kestrel (68), White-tailed Eagle (57), Peregrine Falcon (42) and Sparrowhawk (35). Cases were reported in 15 of 16 federal states and a total of 229 of 402 districts. Around half of all the cases (n = 488) comes from North-Rhine – Westphalia, followed by Brandenburg (92), Bavaria (85), Lower Saxony (69), Baden-Württemberg (57) and Schleswig Holstein (46). The national success rate for prosecution is around 7.2 % (72 of 998 cases). In 27 cases the offenders were pigeon or poultry keepers, 28 cases involved hunting license holders and 7 incidents in which the motive for the action was unknown or the offenders had a different background.
The perpetrators were typically sentenced with a fine ranging between a few hundred to 4,800 euros. A national strategy is needed to combat this kind of environmental crime more effectively in the future. The most important measures are presented and discussed in the report.
Key words: illegal persecution, birds of prey, Germany, poisoning, trapping, shooting