Police recently followed a tip of an illegal gathering near Brescia, Italy. The luncheon included about 20 people, despite COVID-19 restrictions in the region. But upon arrival, authorities found the culprits were also dining on protected migratory birds.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

When the officers raided the luncheon at a local government building, they found the guests enjoying appetizers and drinks — sans entrees. However, further investigation revealed that they were hiding 65 protected migratory birds, which they were preparing for the feast. Among the birds on the menu included many protected finches, specifically two hawfinches and one brambling.

Related: Critically endangered regent honeyeaters are losing their song

The fried birds were hidden beneath a table after the suspects saw the police arrive. The officers immediately recognized the protected birds based on their shapes, particularly their unique, easily identifiable bills. 

Several organizations have condemned the actions following the news. The anti-hunting league of Italy termed the actions “shameful” in reference to feasting on protected species. The animal protection league said it was “enraging.”

Gardone Val Trompia, the region where the event happened, lies right in the middle of the migratory path for greenfinches, thrushes and blackbirds. Traditionally, the locals here hunt for the birds by laying traps in tree branches or by shooting them. However, legislation has made hunting for some of these species illegal, requiring the locals to stay away from the practice. But Italy remains a hotbed for illegal bird killings, and many of the birds being targeted are classified as threatened.

Valleys north of Brescia have remained particularly dangerous zones, with hundreds of thousands of birds killed each year. According to BirdLife International, almost 5 million birds are shot every year in Italy alone. This accounts for about one-fifth of all birds killed illegally in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean Coast and the Caucasus.

“There is a general crisis of biodiversity,” said Annamaria Procacci, a board member of Italy’s Animal Protection League. “And then there are people feasting on it.”

Via The New York Times

Image via Vine House Farm