German Ornithologists’ Society Petition for a revocation of the Lower Austria Bird of Prey Ordinance

In December 2008 the new Bird of Prey Ordinance approved by the Lower Austrian regional government came into force. Over a six year time frame a total of 1,200 Common Buzzards and 240 Goshawks may be shot. Some years ago a similar ordinance had to be withdrawn by the state government after BirdLife Austria and the WWF filed a complaint with the European Commission. The current ordinance refers to the possible exceptions to the EU Bird Protection Guidelines in terms of “reasonable use”. It is argued that hunting as a form of leisure activity represents reasonable use of birds of prey. Additionally, permission to hunt is intended to motivate hunters to invest more in nature protection. This represents an in the European Union unparalleled and unacceptable regulation permitting persecution of birds of prey.

According to a study conducted by the Institute for Wildlife and Veterinary Medicine Ecology at the University of Vienna a further 25 protected wildlife species, which are potentially part of the prey spectrum of the two raptor species, will profit from the ordinance. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for this claim however. 14 of the species listed have never been proved as prey for the birds. The list of the supposedly endangered species also includes such absurd examples as the Meadow Viper Vipera ursinii, which has not been recorded in Lower Austria for the past 30 years.

The ordinance is designed solely to serve an outdated mentality on the part of hunters, who regard birds of prey not as part of the ecosystem, but rather as a supposed competitor for the same prey. The hunting community still appears to believe that small game is endangered by birds of prey alone - an assumption without any scientific basis.

The German Ornithologists‘ Society, on behalf of numerous Central European ornithologists, condemns this ordinance permitting the persecution of birds of prey and calls on Landesrat Dr. Pernkopf to rescind it without delay.

Passed by the General Assembly of the German Ornithologists‘ Society on the occasion of their 142nd Annual General Meeting on 3 October 2009 in Pörtschach.