North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany – CABS team investigates case of animal cruelty and persecution of birds of prey

Illegal traps, dead birds of prey and suspicious bait found. German Police secure evidence and start criminal proceedings. In the past few days an incredible case of illegal persecution of birds of prey has been brought to light in a hunting reserve near Düsseldorf in NRW, Germany. According to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), four illegal bird of prey traps, seven dead raptors, a dead fox and suspected poisoned bait were found in woodland. The conservationists alerted the police and local veterinary officials who spent several hours yesterday securing evidence consisting of widely scatted bird corpses and offal. The exact cause of mortality will be determined in the veterinary laboratory.

Ladder Trap 01

ladder trap 02

One of several ladder traps found near Willich, North-Rhine

The illegal traps are so-called ‘ladder traps’ as well as an aviary with inverted wire funnels through which the birds of prey can access bit not exit from the trap. The aviary contained a pigeon and several ducks, clearly used as live decoys, as well as the corpses of two Goshawks, presumably clubbed to death. One of the ladder traps was baited with a dead rabbit, pieces of bread and a live but injured decoy Carrion Crow that was kept without water. A freshly-dead Common Buzzard, with severe head injuries, lay some metres distant from the trap. The crow was removed and taken to a local veterinary surgeon for treatment. At the time of the finds the other two ladder traps were not activated and were empty of bait .

CABS further reports that a search of the area in about 150 m radius to the two active traps turned up a pile of offal in the vicinity of which four further dead Buzzards and a dead fox were found. “One of the birds still had meat remnants in its beak. It is therefore strongly suspected that these four birds were poisoned”, reports CABS spokesperson Axel Hirschfeld. Some of the dead birds and the suspicious bait lay immediately adjacent to a plot maintained for wildlife, a pheasant run and a shooting tower.

five dead buzzards

Five of the seven dead buzzards found on the game reserve in North-Rhine, Germany this week

Five of the seven dead birds of prey (Common Buzzards) found in the game reserve of the suspected culprit.The aviary and the active ladder trap were within eyeshot of the dwelling house of the responsible game reserve tenant and only a few metres distant from a second hunting tower. “Shortly after the arrival of the police the hunter appeared and wanted to know what we were doing in his reserve“ reports Hirschfeld. He admitted to being the owner of the aviary but denied any knowledge of the dead birds of prey which had been found on his property. When the conservationists, in the presence of the police, asked the man why the decoy crow had not at least been provided with water, the latter replied he was not prepared to make any further comment and marched off.

Dead buzzard with meat

One of several dead buzzards recovered, this bird still had meat in it’s beak-suspected poison

A passer-by had noticed the three ladder traps in late March and had reported them to the Committee.

This Buzzard still has a piece of the suspected poisoned offfal in its beak. Goshawks in Germany are strictly protected by law. According to CABS, the population of this species has sharply declined in some areas of Germany over the past few years. One reason for the decline is illegal persecution by pigeon fanciers and hunters, who regard the rare birds of prey as unwelcome competitors for game birds such as pheasant.

The persecution and trapping of birds of prey are criminal offences under German law, which can be punished by heavy fines or up to five years imprisonment. If it can be proved that the reserve tenant is the culprit, he is liable to also lose his hunting licence.

2 comments to North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany – CABS team investigates case of animal cruelty and persecution of birds of prey

  • Jimmy

    Hopefully this incident is treated more seriously by the law over there compared to similiar cases in the UK.

  • That is one of the most brutal cases of illegal raptor killing I have ever read. I sincerely hope the ignorant individual responsible faces the full consequences of his actions. If they bothered to do their research they’d find Buzzards’ diets consist of carrion, they don’t predate game fowl.