TARTAS and BORDEAUX, France, September 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
A team from The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) claim they were savagely attacked by French bird trappers with tear gas and a German birdwatcher was nearly killed with a tractor, according to a statement released by the organisation today. The incident, which allegedly took place yesterday afternoon near the town of Tartas in the Southwest of France, is the latest in a series of acts of violence against conservationists who work against the illegal trapping of the Ortolan Bunting - a highly endangered songbird species which is protected throughout the European Union. CABS said that the attack happened in plain view of two police officers who were deployed by the authorities to ensure the safety of the birdwatchers. "When the poacher realised that his trapping site had been detected, he informed his friend who tried to surround and beat up two members of our team who escaped by the skin of their teeth and managed to hide in a corn field," CABS president Heinz Schwarze reports. The organisation also alleges that when a third CABS member - together with the two police officers - came to pick up his colleagues in a car, one of the attackers blocked the vehicle´s passage and sprayed a full load of tear gas into his face. CABS claims that while the victim was lying on the ground fighting for air and temporarily blinded, another man tried to run over him with a large tractor. In the nick of time, a police officer managed to pull away the victim and called for reinforcements. Thanks to a massive force of more than 20 heavily armed police officers, the situation was finally brought under control. The trapper was arrested and was being questioned at the Tartas police station until late yesterday evening.
"We have filed a complaint against the attackers and we will exhaust all possibilities by criminal and civil law to ensure that they have to pay a high price for their behaviour," Heinz Schwarze announced. Despite a clear legal ban, trapping and selling Ortolan Buntings is big business in the french Department of Landes. One single bird can be sold for up to 100 Euros. After being trapped, the birds are fattened and drowned in Armagnac - a local brandy - and finally served as a ´traditional´ delicacy.
In the last 4 days, CABS has filed complaints against 9 Ortolan Bunting trappers in the communities of Dax, Tartas, Aire-sur-l´Adour and Saint-Sever. However, only 2 trapping sites have been dismantled by the authorities so far. "We believe this situation is the consequence of the ambiguous tolerance politics of the local authorities who have given the trappers a carte blanche to trap protected birds. We strongly call for an end to this tolerance politic, which is in clear breach of European environmental law," CABS Operations Officer Andrea Rutigliano stated. The NGO announced that it will prepare a comprehensive report about the large-scale songbird poaching and the poor enforcement of wildlife laws in Landes for the European Commission. Video footage of the operation will be uploaded on YouTube in due course.
Contact for up-to-date information, pictures and video footage: Axel Hirschfeld, CABS Press Officer, Mobile +49-1704803805, Email: email@example.com
SOURCE Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)