Article by SPEA
The law has been revised, and now forbids not just the use but also the sale of indiscriminate traps such as lime-sticks, snares and snap-traps. After years of work with parliamentary groups, and with the support of the thousands of citizens who signed our petition, this is an important step to increase the efficiency of the fight against illegal killing and trapping of birds in Portugal.
“Banning the sale of these traps which serve no other purpose than to catch and kill birds, is an important step, for which we congratulate ourselves,” says Joaquim Teodósio, coordinator of Land Conservation Department at SPEA, BirdLife’s partner in Portugal. “This change increases authorities’ ability to act against the trapping and killing of birds, and makes it harder to perpetrate these illegal activities.”
Even though wild birds have been protected by national and European law for two decades, an estimated 283 thousand birds were trapped in Portugal between 2011 and 2017, to be sold as pets or eaten as a delicacy. The European Court of Justice itself decreed last March, in response to an enquiry from the French council of state, that the use of lime-sticks (an artisanal glue used to trap birds) is illegal according to the EU Birds Directive. Nevertheless, these crimes often go unpunished because they are difficult to detect and investigate. By banning the sale of these traps, this change to the law makes it harder to commit this crime against nature, and enables authorities to stop it before any birds are captured or killed.
Traps like snap-traps, nets and lime-sticks indiscriminately catch any bird that falls in them. They put not just birds but the balance of ecosystems and the health of our fields at risk. Whoever sells these traps now risks fines up to 18000€. Under a different law already in place, whoever catches or kills wild birds could even face a jail sentence, as this is considered a crime against nature.
However, the manufacture and possession of traps are still not contemplated by the law. “People who have these traps are going to use them, so it would have been good if possession of traps had also been banned, but this change to the law is undoubtedly an important step,” Teodósio concludes.