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Heavy fines, hunting bans for bird trappers in UK bases

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With only weeks to go until what is usually the start of the illegal bird trapping season, British Bases police said more than €10,000 in fines have been issued to trappers in court recently, alongside a huge 10-year hunting ban for one individual.

Exclusion orders, which mean convicted trappers will not be able to return to the land, totalling seven years, were also issued and two men were sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for three years.

“The convictions, which relate to arrests made by the SBA Police Bird Trapping Action Team last year, send out a strong warning to would-be trappers ahead of the migration season for Ambelopoulia (Black Caps), which begins at the end of this month,” said a bases statement.

In recent years, the SBA police committed large resources to combat the problem with data confirming a 95.6% reduction in trapping since 2016.

Dhekelia’s Superintendent Andreas Pitsillides, chairman of the Bird Trapping Steering Group, awarded in the UK last year for its work in tackling the criminal activity, said there would be no let-up this year despite the success.

“Of course, we are very happy with the fines, exclusion orders, prison sentences and the 10-year hunting ban for the individuals found guilty in the SBA Court over the past few weeks but we also hope the message to trappers is very clear.

“We as a police force continue to prioritise eradicating illegal trapping in the SBAs and there will be no relaxing over the coming months.

We will continue to utilise all of the technology available to us, including covered surveillance, drones and regular patrols alongside our colleagues in the Republic of Cyprus Game Fund, BirdLife Cyprus, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.”

The trapping season for Ambelopoulia runs until the end of October and in November, Thrushes will become the target of trappers until February.

“Our teamwork on this issue is all year round. When we are not in trapping season, we are preparing for the next one alongside our colleagues and that is why we have experienced so much success in recent years,” said Pitsillides.