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Illegal killing and taking of birds in Europe outside the Mediterranean: assessing the scope and scale of a complex issue

  • ANNE-LAURE BROCHET (a1) (a2), WILLEM VAN DEN BOSSCHE (a3), VICTORIA R. JONES (a1), HOLMFRIDUR ARNARDOTTIR (a4), DORIN DAMOC (a5), MIROSLAV DEMKO (a6), GERALD DRIESSENS (a7), KNUD FLENSTED (a8), MICHAEL GERBER (a9), MAMIKON GHASABYAN (a10), DIMITAR GRADINAROV (a11), JANUS HANSEN (a12), MÁRTON HORVÁTH (a13), MARIUS KARLONAS (a14), JAROSŁAW KROGULEC (a15), TATIANA KUZMENKO (a16), LARS LACHMAN (a17), TEEMU LEHTINIEMI (a18), PATRIC LORGÉ (a19), ULRIK LÖTBERG (a20), JOHN LUSBY (a21), GERT OTTENS (a22), JEAN-YVES PAQUET (a23), ALEXANDER RUKHAIA (a24), MATTHIAS SCHMIDT (a25), PAUL SHIMMINGS (a26), ANDRIS STIPNIEKS (a27), ELCHIN SULTANOV (a28), ZDENĚK VERMOUZEK (a29), ALEXANDRE VINTCHEVSKI (a30), VELJO VOLKE (a31), GEORG WILLI (a32) and STUART H.M. BUTCHART (a1) (a33)...
Summary

The illegal killing and taking of wild birds remains a major threat on a global scale. However, there are few quantitative data on the species affected and countries involved. We quantified the scale and scope of this issue in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus, using a diverse range of data sources and incorporating expert knowledge. The issue was reported to be widespread across the region and affects almost all countries/territories assessed. We estimated that 0.4–2.1 million birds per year may be killed/taken illegally in the region. The highest estimate of illegal killing in the region was for Azerbaijan (0.2-1.0 million birds per year). Out of the 20 worst locations identified, 13 were located in the Caucasus. Birds were reported to be illegally killed/taken primarily for sport and food in the Caucasus and for sport and predator/pest control in both Northern and Central Europe. All of the 28 countries assessed are parties to the Bern Convention and 19 are also European Union Member States. There are specific initiatives under both these policy instruments to tackle this threat, yet our data showed that illegal killing and taking is still occurring and is not restricted to Mediterranean European countries. Markedly increased effort is required to ensure that existing legislation is adequately implemented and complied with/enforced on the ground. Our study also highlighted the paucity of data on illegal killing and taking of birds in the region. It is a priority, identified by relevant initiatives under the Bern Convention and the European Union, to implement systematic monitoring of illegal killing and taking and to collate robust data, allowing stakeholders to set priorities, track trends and monitor the effectiveness of responses.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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*Author for correspondence; e-mail: science@birdlife.org
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