Hunters become hunted in Spain as illegal capture of wild songbirds ends in disaster

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The capture of finches is strictly banned under European law. Credit: CABS.

A ROUND of applause has been quietly wavered across the country, as a group of poachers had a very unlucky day whilst out on an illegal hunt in Spain.

Three men who had planned to capture birds in Vallfogona de Balaguer in Lleida came home with much more than they could have expected – an arrest and an imminent appearance in court. 

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As reported by the Mossos d’Esquadra police force, the men were spotted by chance by a patrol in the area on Thursday, January 9, evidently looking for finches, locally known as ‘pájaros fringílidos’ – where their capture is strictly banned under European law.

Once the men realised they were being watched, they ran towards their nearby car and attempted to flee the scene. However, this was met with great failure, as the men swerved off the road and landed head-first into a ditch. This allowed officers to catch up with the men, where they were immediately put into handcuffs.

Upon a search of the vehicle, officers found several traps and devices for catching the birds, confirming their suspicions that the men were avid poaching enthusiasts. They were subsequently taken to the nearby Balaguer police station where an identity check revealed that two of the men had a criminal history for crimes against wildlife.

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Traps for the finches were found in the car. Credit: ACN.

As Euro Weekly News understands, each of the men have now been charged with the same count in addition to crimes against traffic safety due to the result of the car landing into a ditch, where it is understood that they will appear in court in due course.

Finch trapping has been banned since 2009 under the Birds Directive, where in May 2018, the European Commission gave Spain a two-month deadline to stop finch trapping altogether. In June, just 8 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions had suspended the trapping of goldfinches, greenfinches, linnets, serins and chaffinches, where penalties are heavily imposed by the EU if it is found that these species are poached.  

Finches are captured as part of a long standing Spanish tradition named ‘silvestrismo’ where the small wild birds are used as caged birds to exploit their singing abilities. The trapping of finches with nets and lime commonly takes place in the southern regions of Spain, including Andalucía, Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia.


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