In Bulgaria, certain bird species can be legally hunted during specific periods. Only certain types of rifles are allowed, and all other hunting methods are forbidden, including the use of calling devices or live decoys. Bird trapping is illegal.
And yet, despite bird protection legislation, up to 63,700 birds are illegally killed in Bulgaria every single year. Some species are more affected than others. Those hit the hardest by the atrocity that is illegal killing are the Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix), Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), and the Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons).
To the East of Bulgaria lies the Black Sea coast, also known as the Bulgarian Riviera. It’s full of golden sandy beaches and attracts millions of tourists every year. Little do those tourists know, the Black Sea coast is also a hotspot for the illegal killing of birds… In particular, in the Dobrudzha and Dobrich regions, Durankulak lake, Shabla lake and Burgas lakes.
Bird crime in Bulgaria takes many different forms: nest robbing for illegal falconry, egg collecting, raptor persecution, trapping and exporting songbirds, illegal killing tourism, killing raptors for taxidermy collection, and more.
Thankfully for our feather’s friends, they don’t only have human enemies. They’ve got some amazing human friends, too. BirdLife’s Bulgarian partner, the BSPB – the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds – is one of the leading environmental NGOs for the protection of wild birds and their habitats in the Balkans. The people at BSPB work tirelessly to end the illegal killing of birds in Bulgaria, and have spearheaded efforts in the region to combat the illegal trafficking of Egyptian vultures. It is currently leading an ambitious project, ‘Egyptian vulture – New LIFE’, spanning 14 countries along its migratory flyway.
In Bulgaria and the Balkans, BSPB and its partners are focusing on creating ‘Vulture Safe Zones’ by clearing areas of poisoned baits and ensuring the availability of safe food. BSPB, together with Green Balkans, has also launched a much-needed breeding program to strengthen local population numbers before time runs out for these magnificent vultures.
BSPB is also using a database to try to monitor all kinds of data regarding cases of bird crime. This database contains information on the date, place, type of species, etc.
Whilst better law enforcement should help to underpin efforts to tackle this issue on the ground, unfortunately, busting bird crime seems to be a low priority task for Bulgarian institutions.