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Shots fired at the rare short-eared owl – yet another crime against nature


Lithuanian naturalists were deeply shocked by the news received this autumn – the rare short-eared owl ringed in Juodkrantė on 30 September was killed in Southern France. According to Ligita Pareigienė, Head of the Juodkrantė Environmental Monitoring Laboratory of the Kaunas Tadas Ivanauskas Museum of Zoology, this bird marked with the ring LITHUANIA EP 00808 was found prostrate in the French Isere Department on 15 October, two weeks after the ringing, and was delivered to the wild fauna care centre Le Tichodroma; unfortunately, it died on the same day.

This is the first known case when the short-eared owl ringed in Lithuania was found. In total, only 30 birds of this species have been ringed in the country since 1929.

The owl ringed in Juodkrantė, which flew almost 2,000 km, was simply shot in Southern France. This was shown by an X-ray – two pellets could be clearly seen in its body. This rare bird which is protected in many European countries died at the hands of the villain. Even now that it is the 21st century birds are still caught, shot and eaten in the Mediterranean region under the cover of “old traditions”.

“Why do our birds die?” – that was the question asked by Professor Tadas Ivanauskas in his articles about our birds killed during migrations almost a decade ago in order to raise public awareness on this issue. Being well acquainted with Southern Europe and its people, he was surprised by their traditions and liking to shoot and use various means to catch and eat song birds. Tadas Ivanauskas raised this issue repeatedly by publishing the article “Why our song birds become extinct” in the magazine Mūsų Girios in 1962.

The majority of birds are hunted, caught and eaten in the Mediterranean region. Based on the data of the international organisation Birdlife International, these figures total approximately 25 million per annum. In Cyprus alone, more than 2 million of birds are killed. It is official statistics but it is believed that the actual numbers are even higher.

Last June, after their visit to Cyprus, the representatives of the European Commission stated that the amendments to the documents regulating hunting adopted in this country provided simpler conditions for illegal hunting and more intensive killing of birds. Cyprus was warned about these legal acts. However, this happens in other countries as well.

Public Relations Division
20 November 2017

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas