The European Union’s Birds Directive protects 500 or so wild bird species. Yet illegal activities such as killing, trapping and trading of songbirds continue. However, Malta was convicted in June by the European Court of Justice for allowing trapping. Italy fell into line in 2015 after warnings from the European Commission. Now the battleground is Spain.
The Spanish government authorized the capture of 1,731,861 finches in 2013–18, presumably to provide a stock of captive-bred birds in case the ban on trapping was ever enforced (see go.nature.com/2mcg78z; in Spanish). In May, the European Commission gave Spain a two-month deadline to stop finch trapping altogether. As of 1 June, just 8 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions had suspended the trapping of goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), greenfinches (Carduelis chloris), linnets (Carduelis cannabina), serins (Serinus serinus) and chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs). If the other regions fail to do the same, Spain could risk fines amounting to millions of euros.
We urge the new Spanish government to take prompt action to save wild songbirds.
Nature 560, 431 (2018)