Birds

How EU countries grant licenses to kill millions of birds

Have you heard of the EU Birds Directive? It is a powerful law that protects birds across the continent.

Exceptionally, the Member States can derogate from the Directive. This means that they effectively enable humans to get rid of birds, their eggs or their nests in very specific situations: for example for public health or to prevent serious damage to property. Typically, such exemptions are only granted when all other non-fatal alternatives have been tried and failed.

Problem: They issue licenses to kill protected birds like there’s no tomorrow.

Between 2009 and 2017, EU member states granted more than 84,000 derogations, killing more than 14,000,000 birds. That’s right: fourteen million. Given the questionable reliability of Member States’ self-assessments, this figure is most likely an underestimate. In certain cases, some states have not produced any reports for several years!

By abusing their power to issue licenses to kill birds, Member States are breaking EU law, attacking biodiversity, abandoning animal welfare and turning their backs on science. The European Commission must act decisively.

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