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Five Northern Bald Ibises shot during the autumn migration

The following is reprinted from the website of the Northern Bald Ibis reintroduction project:

Please consider signing the petition against illegal hunting in Italy which has had a serious effect on the project during the last autumn migration (scroll to the bottom of the page).


On November 15 2016, the female Northern Bald Ibis LUNA was found in the region of Verona, near Costermano, with heavy injuries caused by gun pellets. It is the fifth case of illegal hunting on this critically endangered species within the migration season 2016.

© Corinna Ersterer, Waldrappteam

This means, almost 30% of all the NBIs, which migrated since September 2016 along the flyway from the breeding sites north of the Alps to the wintering site in the southern Tuscany, were shot.

This is a serious threat to one of the most endangered bird species in the world and a substantial infringement of Italian and European law. The financial damage to the European reintroduction project LIFE+ Northern Bald Ibis is estimated at 234.000 Euro.

Since all our NBIs carry GPS‐transmitter, the species becomes an indicator species for the threat of illegal hunting in Italy. We assume that for other endangered migratory bird species along the Italian flyway the rate of losses by illegal hunting is the same or even higher.

Notwithstanding, the measures against the perpetrators are only hesitant, as in the case of TARA, one of our birds shot near Vicenza with a damage of 70.400 Euro. There is a serious risk of dismissal of the case before detailed investigations have been started.

Our data strongly indicate that poaching happens mainly by people which also hunt legally. Many hunters and hunting representatives, both in Italy and abroad, condemn these crimes and recognize this as serious damage to the environment and to their reputation. Since 2014, the LIFE+ project has collaboration agreements with the major Italian hunting associations, aiming to reduce the threat of illegal bird hunting.

In an open letter to politicians and stakeholders in Italy and abroad, Waldrappteam proposes six concrete measures to be taken against the verifiable high rate of illegal bird hunting in Italy:

(1) immediate and consistent investigation after each evident case of poaching to identify the poacher and to initiate a criminal prosecution;
(2) permanent withdrawal of the hunting license upon conviction of a poacher;
(3) significant increase of the pecuniary penalties for poaching crimes;
(4) overhaul of the Italian law on hunting to ensure greater protection of endangered species;
(5) adequate and comprehensive training of hunting license holders;
(6) installation of more hunting-free zones or special protected areas at migration hot spots of Northern Bald Ibises and other endangered species.

The LIFE+ Northern Bald Ibis team will take the initiative to organize an international symposium on illegal bird hunting where relevant parties come together to discuss and decide about meaningful measures.

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