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Bird protection camps in Italy - active operations against poaching and bird trapping

CABS has organised annual large scale bird protection camps in poaching hot-spots in Italy for over 25 years. Together with its partner organisations, well over 200 volunteer conservationists from all over Europe come together to locate and collect traps, nets and electronic decoy devices and to help to bring the poachers to justice. In this way over 20,000 bird traps and nets are collected, thousands of rounds of ammunition and dozens of hunting weapons are confiscated, and hundreds of illegally kept decoy birds are set free.

The three most important areas where bird protection camps in Italy are operated are:

- Brescia, Northern Italy in autumn

- Campania, Southern Italy in spring, and

- The island of Sardinia in winter.

The Brescia bird protection camp
The province of Brescia, situated in Lombardy between Lakes Garda and Iseo, is by far the worst area for poaching in Europe. Nowhere else on the continent are birds stalked by so many hunters and poachers, equipped with shotguns, nets and traps, as in this region in the Southern Alps.
Consequently CABS and its partner organisations organise a bird protection camp here, the largest of its kind in Europe, every autumn. From the end of September to mid-December some 180 to 200 wildlife and nature conservationists from all over Europe join in the search for illegal traps and nets.
At the core of this action, which has taken place every year since 1985, is a three week CABS operation every October. More than 100 participants collect traps and nets and report trapping sites to the forest police. From the beginning of October to mid-November it is the turn of the WWF game wardens to run their largest operation Italy-wide in Brescia. They run controls on hunters, confiscate weapons, ammunition and hunting bags, and also join in the operations to locate and remove illegal traps and nets. In addition, almost every weekend in autumn, volunteer members of our partner organisation LAC are out and about in the Brescia Mountains and dismantle traps and nets.
In this way, with our support, up to 1,000 traps and 200 nets are dismantled annually in Northern Italy, more than 70 weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and hundreds of decoy birds are confiscated, and more than 50 poachers are brought to justice.

The Sardinia bird protection camp

In late autumn the poachers in Sardinia lie in wait, with hundreds of thousands of fine horsehair snares, for the North and Central European Robins and thrushes to arrive in their winter quarters.
CABS and its partner organisations have organised a bird protection camp in the south of the island since 1999. During the annual operations, which usually last for a fortnight, between 20 and 30 volunteers dismantle some 20,000 to 25,000 of the illegal snares and very often over 100 illegal mist nets (see trap statistics). Additionally, they check butcher's and poulterer's shops for the sale of illegally trapped song birds.

The bird protection camps in the south: three islands - three operations

On the return in spring of migrant birds from their winter quarters in Africa, the coastlines of above all the Southern Italian region of Campania and its offshore islands are lined with thousands of bird trappers and hunters, lying in wait for their feathered prey.
Since 1993, CABS and its partner organisation WWF have run a bird protection camp each spring on the island of Ischia, the focal point of poaching in the south of the Apennine peninsula. Some 15 to 25 conservationists take part annually in operations on the island from roughly mid-April to mid-May each year. The majority of the participants are licensed game wardens form our partner organisations.
During daylight hours the programme includes the dismantling of illegal wire traps used to catch late migrant insectivores such as Whinchats and Nightingales. At dawn and dusk, teams lie in ambush near known poaching hot-spots and wait for the poachers to appear. If they hear a shot, or catch a glimpse of an armed poacher, they follow the culprit and try to catch him red-handed. Each night a team goes in search of electronic decoy devices (illegal tape recorders playing bird calls) which poachers use to decoy birds, in particular migrant Quails, on to the guns,
Beginning in 2007 our partners from LIPU Naples operate a bird protection camp on the small neighbouring island of Procida. This camp, as with the LAC operations on the island of Ponza (Lazio province), are financially supported by CABS.
In many of the operations local forest police or Carabinieri officers are on call to carry out arrests or to confiscate property or hunting bags. In the course of our annual camps in Southern Italy some 250 clutch traps, a dozen nets and up to 30 electronic decoy devices are collected. The game wardens usually confiscate more than 15 weapons and several thousand rounds of ammunition.

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Proact 2000-2007