The distinctive peep of the elusive Common quail is a common feature of the otherwise quiet nights around the Gargano National Park in Italy.
In fact, their sound is heard all year round – not because of an exceptionally long breeding season, but because of electronic call devices used by poachers to attract migrating quail and easily shoot them in the first light of day.
Our Italian partner, LIPU, made this heartbreaking discovery when doing fieldwork to assess the scope and scale of the illegal killing of waterbirds in the main wetlands of the region, and the trapping of larks which are used across the country as live decoys to help hunters attract larger numbers of birds.
LIPU have passed on their findings to local law enforcement who are now getting a better understanding of the scale of the problem. Catching poachers in the act, especially at night, is an incredibly difficult task. They are well-organised with people on the look-out for any unfamiliar people or cars approaching, both easy to spot in these open habitats and flat terrains. To catch these poachers, law enforcement needs more resources, both in terms of people, and also better technology, such as night-vision equipment.
Thanks to LIPU’s widespread work on protecting birds and their habitats, they made this horrific discovery about electronic soundcallers being used to poach quail. Without them, it’s very likely that this crime would have gone unnoticed for much longer. Lipu continues its fight against poachers across Italy, to keep these flyways safe for the countless birds that fly over it during their autumn and spring migration.
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