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A quantification of illegal hunting of birds in Gipuzkoa (north of Spain)


The illegal hunting of wild birds is still today a major threat to the conservation of biodiversity on a global scale. This activity jeopardizes the survival of several migratory species. Our aims in this work were to (1) determine the spatial and temporal distribution of illegal hunting activities affecting bird species with regard to the location of fixed hunting posts in particular, and (2) identify the most affected species in Gipuzkoa (north of Spain), situated in a bottleneck area within one of the main routes of migration between Europe and Africa. All of our data came from birds with firearm injuries that were admitted to the Gipuzkoa Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC). Over a period of 8 years (2006–2013), 421 birds belonging to 53 species were registered. The number of shot birds was found to be greater in more highly populated areas and during the months coinciding with hunting periods. Moreover, shot birds were recovered close to fixed hunting posts, suggesting that the illegal shooting of birds took place near or directly from these posts. Although the figures were not comparable to the high numbers of migrants shot annually in some other southern European areas, our results show that, even in small areas like Gipuzkoa, increased levels of protection are necessary.

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The Gipuzkoa Administration provided the data from the Gipuzkoa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, the geographic distribution of the fixed hunting posts, and the number of hunting permits issued. A. Crespo helped us with the Monte Carlo analyses. An anonymous reviewer and the Editor C. Gortázar provided valuable comments that helped us to improve an earlier version of this work.

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Correspondence to Juan Arizaga.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Arizaga, J., Laso, M. A quantification of illegal hunting of birds in Gipuzkoa (north of Spain). Eur J Wildl Res 61, 795–799 (2015).

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  • Bird migration
  • Gipuzkoa
  • Shooting
  • Raptors
  • Wildlife rehabilitation center