FACE: a key partner in European campaign against illegal bird killing practices

Illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds
Council of Europe Conference - 29-31 May, Tunis

The issue of the illegal killing, trapping and trading of birds – particularly in Mediterranean countries – has been regularly on the agenda of the meetings of the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention for the past 15 years. Its Standing Committee therefore decided to organise a European conference to address this problem, held in Cyprus in July 2011. FACE was represented there by its then Vice-President John Swift and its Senior Policy Advisor Yves Lecocq. Both experts gave presentations and were actively involved in the discussions, leading to Recommendation No. 155 (2011) on the illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds. The key message of Recommendation No.155 was “zero tolerance toward illegal bird killing” and equally that it was not about legal hunting practices: in fact legal hunting and sustainable use should be recognised for their positive role in tackling the problems identified.

FACE remained involved with this initiative, both in terms of the Council of Europe and that of the EU through the European Commission’s DG Environment. FACE was again represented - by the same two experts - at a follow-up conference, organised by the Bern Convention on 29-30 May 2013 in Tunis.

19 countries were represented along with the EU, officials from the Bonn Convention on Migratory species (CMS) and from its African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). The OMPO Research Institute and the Tunisian Hunters’ Federation as well as a wide range of bird conservation and protection NGOs were also present.

John Swift made a presentation detailing how the UK is dealing with rural crime whilst in his presentation, Yves Lecocq identified challenges and opportunities for host countries in relation to sustainable bird hunting tourism.

In the afternoon and evening, participants were divided in 3 Working Groups: one on legal aspects with John Swift as Rapporteur, one on biological aspects and one on awareness. Yves Lecocq participated in the latter, which focussed on trying to understand why people continue to capture or trade birds illegally before preparing well-targeted education and awareness-raising campaigns.

The next day, the outcome of each Working Group was presented to the plenary Conference. There was recognition of the need to identify and focus on so-called ‘black-spots’ where illegal activities are particularly persisting; and to establish alliances - including with hunters’ organisations - to address these problems effectively.

Participants then agreed on a number of findings, conclusions and recommendations which will be submitted to the next meeting of the Bern Convention at the end of this year.

FACE will of course continue to monitor and engage with this issue closely so as to make an active contribution to ending these illegal and unethical practices.