Italian wild bird protection found wanting

The European Court of Justice has condemned Italy for giving too free a rein to hunters, in breach of EU rules protecting wild birds.

The 1979 wild birds directive imposes a general ban on hunting birds, with exceptions. A law passed in the Venice region in 2005 illegally allowed hunting of several protected species, the court ruled on Thursday.

The EU directive does allow limited hunting even of protected species under special restrictions, for example that only “small quantities” are taken. But the Venice region law permitted the killing of more than 6 million chaffinches and 1.5 million bramblings per year, the court noted, which could not be construed as small quantities.

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