In the News: Illegal hunting poses a threat to migratory birds
The long migration to warmer areas in the winter is an arduous and testing task for many birds. Yet for the millions of birds heading to Spain this week, the most dangerous part of the journey may, in fact, be their arrival at the final destination.
Illegal traps, known as parany traps, are being widely used by Spanish hunters. The method involves placing glue-covered twigs and spikes in thickets of trees and it is estimated that these traps may catch up to four million migrating birds.
Migratory bird species flying south to the warm Mediterranean climes, including song thrushes and mistle thrushes, will be at risk from hundreds, if not thousands, of parany traps set in Castellón, eastern Spain, and its neighbouring areas.
While thrushes were once an important source of food in eastern Spain's countryside region, the majority of the illegally trapped birds are now destined for Spanish bars, where they will be served as tapas. However, the local people state that this is a part of their cultural heritage which dates back to Roman times, and that the long-standing tradition should be allowed to continue: "There are pictures of parany traps in the mosaics of Pompeii," said Miguel Angel Bayarri of the trappers' Apaval association.
Although it is not illegal to hunt song and mistle thrushes, nor their cousins the redwing, it is illegal to use parany traps to do so.
Using birdsong recordings, birds are lured into thickets where their wings become glued together, preventing them from flying. Campaigners say that such a method contravenes European wildlife laws.