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German anti-bird hunting group releases "report"

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:36 pm    Post subject: German anti-bird hunting group releases "report" Reply with quote
The Independent

Revealed: 22 million birds shot each year

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Published: 15 August 2006

More than 22 million birds are shot legally in Britain every year, as part of a European toll of well over 100m, a new survey claims.

The full total across Europe includes as many as 30 million songbirds such as thrushes and skylarks, hunted in countries such as Italy and France, according to the report from a radical German anti-hunting pressure group, the Committee against Bird Crime (Komitee gegen den Vogelmord).

The group said the killing represents the "systematic annihilation" of the bird population in Europe, although mainstream bird conservation organisations did not share this view.

But the study does break new ground in assembling the figures, claiming to be the first-ever audit of all the official bird-hunting "bags" of the EU member states.

The report does not deal with poaching - a separate problem - merely with legal hunting, referring the 82 out of Europe's 500-odd bird species which can be shot, under the EU Birds Directive. (Under the directive all others are protected.)

Even so, the the figures - some of which were challenged yesterday - may well cause eyebrows to be raised, as may the fact that Britain, according to the report, is second in Europe in terms of the number of birds killed annually, behind only France, where 25 million are shot. Italy is third, with 17m.

"If you put all the birds shot in a year next to each other, they would cover a distance of 41,000 kilometres corresponding to a total weight of 66,000 tons," said Heinz Schwarze, the Committee's president.

Britain has about 650,000 shooters (defined as people with shotgun licences). The vast majority of the British bag is made up of two species: pheasants, which are bred as game birds (about 12 million are shot annually) and wood pigeons, which are one of Britain's principal agricultural pests. About 6 million wood pigeons are shot every year.

The next highest figure, according to the report, is for wigeon, the duck that is a principal quarry of wildfowlers: more than 527,000 are killed in Britain every winter, the study said. Next comes red-legged partridge, with a bag total of 450,000, and red grouse, the bird of the high moors, with about 432,000 shot annually. The remaining 2.5 million hunted birds are from 20 species which are all in the categories of game birds, wildfowl or pests.

However, although according to the German group, the figures are sourced from various academic papers and studies quoted in the references, some have been robustly challenged. The number of jays shot in Britain every year is given as 738,000, but according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the total number of jays in Britain is less than half that figure. The Game Conservancy Trust similarly disputed the figure given for grey partridges (187,000), saying it estimated there were only about 170,000 birds in the countryside. It also challenged the bag figure of 500 given for capercaillies, large relatives of the grouse in Scottish forests, pointing out that the birds have not been hunted at all for years.
Figures in the report that may be less likely to be challenged are those from wildfowlers, who keep accurate records. For geese, they show that 16,000 each of pink-footed and greylag geese are shot in Britain each year, and 25,000 Canada geese. The figures for ducks are higher. They include: 212,000 teal, 200,000 mallard, 105,000 tufted duck, 101,000 pochard, 40,000 pintail, 18,000 gadwall and 12,000 shoveller.

Other game birds shot annually in Britain, said the report, include 125,000 woodcock, 30,000 snipe and 17,500 ptarmigan. Other birds taken under the " general licence" for pest species allegedly include 154,000 magpies, 134,000 jackdaws, 234,000 carrion crows and 335,000 rooks.

In conservation terms, the biggest concern raised by the report centres on species such as skylarks and turtle doves which are rapidly declining, yet still allowed to be hunted legally in some countries, including in France and Italy (but not in Britain). French hunters kill 637,000 skylarks annually while Italians kill no fewer than 1.83 million; the French account for 189,000 turtle doves while the Italians kill 56,000, according to the report.

"While in the UK there aren't major concerns about our bird populations being put under pressure from hunting, elsewhere in Europe it is illegal hunting that poses a massive problem, especially around the Mediterranean," said the RSPB spokesman Grahame Madge. "As Europe's birds face many pressures ranging from climate change to intensive agriculture, increased pressure from hunting is an additional threat they can do without."

Simon Clarke, spokesman for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation said: "The legal hunting of birds in Britain is sustainable. It is either shooting pest species which do considerable damage, or game or wildfowl species, which is tightly controlled, with a small season."

Only three things are certain: death, taxes and stupid gun laws.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lies, damned lies, etc.

Best wishes,

Neil Mac'
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