Almost a year ago, BirdLife Cyprus launched an online petition to overturn the dramatic relaxation of the bird protection law voted through by the House of Representatives on the 10th of December 2020.
This law amendment reduced the on-the-spot fine from €2000 to €200 for the illegal killing (using limesticks or a shotgun) of up to 50 birds on a list of 14 protected non-game species. The very same 14 songbird species that happen to be the main target species of trappers and poachers, also known as “ambelopoulia”.
This development clearly undermines the 20-year-long effort to protect migratory songbirds from being illegally killed in Cyprus. BirdLife Cyprus’ systematic monitoring for autumn 2021 already shows an increase in trapping levels, both with the use of mist nets and limesticks.
Signed by more than 13,700 citizens, BirdLife Cyprus’ petition calls for the reversal of this terrible law amendment and the restoration of the €2000 fine for the illegal killing of birds with either limesticks or a shotgun, and without any exceptions concerning specific bird species.
BirdLife Cyprus’ demand was backed by the EU Environment Commissioner, who also sent a request for the annulment of this law amendment on the 12th of October 2021. In his letter to the Cyprus Government, Virginijus Sinkevičius points to the fact that the enforceability of the law is doubtful, due to the difficulty in correctly identifying these 14 bird species, and asks for the annulment of the €200 fine and its increase to €2000 for all bird species.
The signatures were handed over to Ms Demetriou by BirdLife Cyprus Honorary Chairman, Mr. Anastasios P. Leventis, who called on Ms Demetriou for the fines to be increased and consequently for Cyprus not to be taken to the EU Court. The petition was also accompanied by a letter from BirdLife International endorsed by 22 BirdLife partners across Europe, expressing their concerns and calling on the President of the Parliament to take action to protect our common natural heritage.