EU Nature Protection Legislation – Focus on Species Protection




Species Protection under Birds Directive
Hunting, capture or killing of birds


Marketing of birds

Article 7:
  • 1. Owing to their population level, geographical distribution and reproductive rate throughout the Community, the species listed in Annex II may be hunted under national legislation.
    Member States shall ensure that the hunting of these species does not jeopardise conservation efforts in their distribution area.
  • 2. The species referred to in Annex II, Part A may be hunted in the geographical sea and land area where this Directive applies.
  • 3. The species referred to in Annex II, Part B may be hunted only in the Member States in respect of which they are indicated.
  • 4. Member States shall ensure that the practice of hunting, including falconry if practised, as carried on in accordance with the national measures in force, complies with the principles of wise use and ecologically balanced control of the species of birds concerned and that this practice is compatible as regards the population of these species, in particular migratory species, with the measures resulting from Article 2.
    They shall see in particular that the species to which hunting laws apply are not hunted during the rearing season or during the various stages of reproduction.
    In the case of migratory species, they shall see in particular that the species to which hunting regulations apply are not hunted during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds.
    Member States shall send the Commission all relevant information on the practical application of their hunting regulations.

One of the most controversial provisions of the Birds Directive is Article 7 relating to the management of hunting. According to Preamble (10) and Article 7, in connection with Annex II of the Birds Directive, hunting is recognised as a legitimate activity. It is an activity that provides significant social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits in different regions of the European Union.
Article 7 of the Birds Directive provides a comprehensive system for the management of hunting to ensure that this practice is sustainable. In particular it includes the requirement to ensure that the birds are not hunted during the period of reproduction and raising of chicks or during the return to their rearing grounds (Article 7 (4) Birds Directive). The Member States are required to specify this period with particular care:

  • “Protection against hunting activities cannot be confined to the majority of the birds of a given species, as determined by average reproductive cycles and migratory movements. It would be incompatible with the objectives of the directive if, in situations characterized by prolonged dependence of the fledglings on the parents and early migration, part of the population of a given species should fall outside the protection laid down.” Click here for more information!
  • Accordingly, “[…] the closing date for the hunting of migratory birds […] must be fixed in accordance with a method which guarantees complete protection of those species during the period of pre-mating migration and that, as a result, methods whose object or effect is to allow a certain percentage of the birds to escape such protection do not comply with Article 7 (4) of the Birds Directive”. Click here for more information!

Referring to Articles 7 and 6 (2) to (4) Click here for more information! of the Birds Directive, the directive provides for derogation from the general principle concerning the bird species listed in the Annexes. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the general prohibitions are no longer in force. The general protective rules remain in force for all species not mentioned in the Annexes, or if the Article’s conditions for derogation are not fulfilled.