On 2nd April, the EEC Directive on the conservation of wild birds came into force, two years after its adoption. It covers ten countries, including much of western Europe, stretching as far east as Greece. It improves the conservation laws in all of them, in some cases markedly. This somewhat surprising initiative, by a Community devoted mainly to economic affairs, began in 1973 when the EEC Commission in Brussels received over 1,000 protests from the Federal German Republic because their protected songbirds were being killed or trapped as they migrated through countries to the south. The Directive reduces drastically the number of passerine species which may legally be hunted to six (five thrushes Turdus and the Skylark Alauda arvensis), and these only in France and Italy. Moreover, it prohibits all large-scale or non-selective capture or killing of birds, including the use of snares, lines, nets, traps and poisoned bait. So, most songbird mortality on migration within the Community should be drastically reduced. The Directive does, however, go far beyond this. It protects all wild birds, their nests and their eggs, unless they can legally be hunted or a special exemption (derogation) is allowed under 'Article 9'. A total of 24 species may now be hunted throughout the Community, and a further 48 may be taken only in specified countries. Sale is restricted to 25 species, only seven of which are allowed automatically; trade in the remainder can be permitted only after consulting the Commission. 

Issue 5
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