In spite of national legislation and international obligations, a new BirdLife International-led review showed illegal killing and taking is still occurring in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus, birds being primarily killed illegally for ‘sport’, ‘food’ or ‘predator and pest control’.

In 2016, the first scientific study to quantify the true extent of the killing throughout the Mediterranean region estimated that more than 25 million birds are illegally killed there each year. To those results, this new paper offers the first scientific baseline on illegal killing of birds in Northern Europe, Central Europe and the Caucasus.

Illegal killing of birds remains a major threat in Europe. While the overall numbers of birds illegally killed are lower than in the Mediterranean, this first attempt estimates that 0.4-2.1 million birds may be killed illegally or taken alive each year in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus. Despite the fact that 28 of the countries recently assessed are parties to the legally binding Bern Convention (on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats), and 19 are also Member States of the European Union, obliged to implement its benchmark nature laws, the Birds and Habitats Directives, the illegal killing of birds continues largely unabated across the old continent.

Better monitoring and increased surveillance of this issue is urgently needed in most countries to increase detection of crimes, and will help to identify priorities for action and to measure progress.

This review identified raptors as the bird group with the highest percentage of species affected by illegal killing. More than 10,000 individuals of Eurasian Buzzard were reported to be illegally killed on average each year. Pallid Harrier, White-tailed Sea-eagle, Red Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk and European Honey-buzzard may potentially have > 1% of their global population illegally killed each year in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region. This is of particular concern for Pallid Harrier and Red Kite which are globally ‘Near Threatened’.

That’s why BirdLife International has launched a new campaign to tackle the problem. To support the Illegal Killing campaign and read the Layman’s report ‘The Killing 2.0’ accompanying this scientific paper and


The new paper, published 15th December 2017, is open access and available to download here: Illegal killing and taking of birds in Europe outside the Mediterranean: assessing the scope and scale of a complex issue


Bird Conservation International, page 1 of 31. © BirdLife International, 2017. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. doi:10.1017/S0959270917000533

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *