Just about everyone likely to read this post probably agrees: Ambelopoulia poaching is a problem and even an ecological disaster. Where opinions might differ here at 10,000 Birds is why this illegal bird trapping is, well, illegal or a problem.

In fact, from responses I’ve seen here and there from trappers themselves, it’s perceived by the trappers that most of us here are upset about the trapping because it’s cruel. That’s an Animal Rights-related concern. Their counter-argument is that, since we’re concerned about this trapping because it’s animal cruelty, we should be equally upset by poultry and hunting practices, that lead to the unkind treatment of chickens, turkey, pheasants, partridges, quail, pigeon, etc. — but we’re not equally upset about those things, making us hypocrites. And if that were our argument, they’d be right.

The Animal Rights approach is emotionally understandable, of course. Typically, we as birders find the practice of shooting or trapping any birds to be distasteful (to say the least). Most of us feel the same for similar treatment of mammals and other animals as well. And it’s perceived by hunters and trappers that we just see something cute, our brains shut off, and we jump into action as though we were radicals. And it’s easy to ignore or dismiss radicals – especially when you consider that the logical conclusion is veganism. And even I think that that’s radical.

The Conservation approach however, comes across as measured and reasonable: While we’re not fans of inflicting suffering of any kind on animals, the larger concern is the conservation of species and their populations for posterity’s sake. Absolutely no one thinks it radical to be concerned about preserving a world worth living in for the sake of our grandchildren. This argument is persuasive, and the trappers’ only response is to deny that limesticks or mist nets are indiscriminant trapping methods that kill individuals of over 150 different bird species in Cyprus, including at least 30 vulnerable or threatened species – a denial that’s easily refuted by cold, hard data.

But I understand that amongst birders there may be a fair portion of Animal Rights’ apologists. Maybe some people of this persuasion would care to comment (Please do so).

Photo Credit: RSPB

Written by Dan
Dan is an eastern Pennsylvania native who grew up surrounded by birdwatching and nature documentaries. He caught the itch, so to speak, when he arrived at Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca, New York, and he refined his birding skills with the Lab of Ornithology's Spring Field Ornithology course. While there he studied Molecular Biology, then met a Cypriot, got married, and ended up moving with her to Cyprus. Dan is an active member of BirdLife Cyprus and goes birding whenever his career and family allow. Birds and their conservation locally, he thinks, are things that people need to talk more about in Cyprus, so much that he now blogs and tweets almost exclusively about these topics at Migrations.