Posted by: Dan | October 29, 2009

What Birds Are Trapped By Poachers?

This is part of the series of posts Poaching in Cyprus FAQ

What Birds Are Caught And Killed By Poachers?

According to the first report on bird trapping levels by BirdLife Cyprus in 2002, more than 150 species of birds (39.5% of the total Cyprus check-list) have been recorded as caught with limesticks or mist-nets. (Hubbard 1967; Horner & Hubbard 1982; Flint & Stewart 1983; Magnin 1986). The 2002 study added seven new species to this list.

The most commonly trapped birds are passerines, forming 71.1% of the species trapped and 98.6% of the total birds trapped. Among these, the commonest are species of the family Sylvia. Although only 11% of the species trapped, they formed 87.2% of the total number of individual birds trapped. These figures, however, are likely a gross overestimate, as these figures are derived from seizures of birds from trappers. As trappers selectively favor Sylvia warblers, it is likely that prior to being intercepted by enforcement agencies, trappers also caught other species that had been killed and discarded.

For a more accurate look at what bird species are caught and killed, one must look back further, to records of trappers cooperating with researchers and reporting their results honestly. According to a 1968 study of bird liming in Cyprus, published by John P. Hubbard in 1982 and conducted with the cooperation of “bird limers” (limestick trappers), 99 species of birds were found to be trapped by limesticks. Here, the most frequently caught was the Lesser Whitethroat (5415/25201), followed by Chiffchaff (4646) and Blackcap (3946). Together these three species accounted for 55.6% of the “catch.” Also taken in large numbers were Redstarts (1325), Orphean Warblers (1062), Whitethroats (676), Willow Warblers (673), Pied/Collared Flycatchers (568), and Subalpine Warblers (654). Other numerous species were the Robin, Hoopoe, House Sparrow, and Cyprus Wheatear (all 300-400); Nightingale and Song Thrush (200-300); and Isabelline Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Bonelli’s Warbler, Cuckoo, Scop’s Owl, Masked Shrike, Wryneck, Thrush-Nightingale, Reed Warbler, and Tree Pipit (all 100-200). Together, these 29 species totaled 94.4% of the “catch.” Large birds were also caught, albeit in small numbers, including Pallid Harrier, Merlin, Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, and Long-eared Owl. Another 65 species were caught that were not included in this brief summary.

Similarly, a 1986 study by Gernant Magnin, revealed similar numbers of caught birds. They also noted 28 species then-considered to be “vulnerable species in Europe,” and 9 species with “limited global range (breeding or wintering) with important populations in Europe.

So the answer to the question posed in this post: Any bird species can be caught on limesticks and mist-nets, and close to half of the ~380 bird species recorded in Cyprus have been caught at one time or another. And limesticks are not any more selective than mist-nets on the whole.


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