BirdLife Europe has published a new report that provides an in-depth analysis of the exemptions in eight EU Member States: Bulgaria, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain.
Exceptions are exceptions to the law that takes into account special circumstances which, if present, cancel the protection that all European birds enjoy under the EU Birds Directive. This means that they effectively allow people to get rid of birds, their eggs or their nests in theoretically very specific situations, for example to continue with the construction work. Typically, such exemptions are only granted when all other non-lethal alternatives to protect the birds have been tried and failed.
Capercaillie endangered by spring hunting in Latvia, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
With 18 exemptions each, each resulting in the death of more than 100,000 birds, these numbers are unfortunately likely to represent a gross underestimation of the real extent of the problem. BirdLife has uncovered persistent reporting problems and inconsistencies, including the fact that Member States do not report or provide incomplete reports to the European Commission on their exception activities. The lack of accurate reporting makes enforcing these critical laws just a joke.
Barbara Herrero: EU Commissioner for Nature Policy, BirdLife Europe:
By abusing their power to issue licenses to kill birds, Member States are breaking EU law, attacking biodiversity, abandoning animal welfare and turning away from science that clearly shows why birds are protected all the time have to. This carefree approach to documentation mocks the rule of law. The EU has put in place laws to protect nature but must enforce them if it is to reverse this disastrous trend.