This is part of the series of posts Poaching in Cyprus FAQ
What is the legal hunting season?
With bird hunting being such an entrenched part of Mediterranean culture that illegal hunting continues at high levels in countries such as Cyprus, Birdlife Cyprus has some information clarifying just what legal open season is.
Season usually opens around 20th of August every Wednesday and Sunday (4-6 hunting days). Legal species: Turtle dove, Woodpigeon.
September – October.
Daily at limited coastal areas. (35-40 hunting days). Legal species: Turtle dove, Woodpigeon.
November – December
Every Wednesday and Sunday. The season opens between 1st and 7th November (16-19 hunting days). Thrushes, Woodpigeon, Chukar Partridge, Black Francolin, Quail, Woodcock.
January – February.
Open season starts at the beginning of January every Wednesday and Sunday (16-19 hunting days). Some areas are open daily. Legal species: Woodpigeon, Woodcock, Thrushes, Skylark, Geese and Ducks.
Contrast those bird species with the rough figures for hunting of birds not on this list, via the RSPB:
An estimated 3.7 million birds are shot every year, of which around 750,000 are shot illegally by an irresponsible minority.
Small birds, and especially Blackcaps, migrating through Cyprus are trapped for sale nationally as the Cypriot food delicacy, ambelopoulia. This trapping peaked around 2000-2001 when at least 10 million birds were trapped each year.
Because the trapping methods are non-selective, 150 species are known to have been caught in the traps. More than a third (58 species) of these are species of conservation concern, including the Lesser Kestrel, which is vulnerable to global extinction. Two other species that are trapped breed only in Cyprus – the Cyprus Warbler and the Cyprus Wheatear.
Lime sticks are the traditional trapping method. Most birds are now trapped in autumn using mist nets, often lured by recordings of bird song. Large-scale commercial trapping operates especially between September and October. Most trapping occurs in the Famagusta District in the south-east, including on the British Sovereign Base Areas.