Illegal night hunting in Arida North Lebanon: Violators arrested and weapons confiscated

After night hunting violations were documented in the Arida border area by sustainable hunters in North Lebanon, the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU), which is affiliated with the Middle East Sustainable Hunting Center (MESHC) and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) and in partnership with the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), moved in
collaboration with the internal security forces (ISF) leader for north Lebanon, Colonel Youssef Darwish, and the investigation unit commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Boutros Sayedeh, so a security patrol was sorted under the command of First Lieutenant Nizar Hababa, which arrested dozens of violators, issued arrest warrants against them and confiscated unlicensed hunting weapons.

SPNL filmed several videos that show the large-scale indiscriminate night poaching of protected migratory birds occurring each autumn in Northern Lebanon. Dozens of poachers were filmed using loud electro-acoustic lures and bright lamps to target protected species such as nightjar, owls, corncrake, and any other passing migratory bird.

Lebanese parliament adopted hunting Law number 580 in 2004. The law mentions that list of game species can be revised annually by the Minister and Higher Hunting Council, but with no specific scientific guidelines. There is no scientific monitoring program for birds, especially game birds up till now. The restrictions mentioned in the current hunting legislation can be considered very Lenient as the definition of Pest species for agriculture is not precise and these can be considered a pest by the landowner of an affected plot. It is difficult and costly to prevent hunting on land through specific signs all over the country (cost & visual nuisance). The law does not specify “hunting areas” yet. The hunting exam does not include a practical section for testing the hunter’s skills in identifying flying bird species. A hunting exam is mandated for getting the hunting license for the first time only. Later on, it is just renewed without an exam. Gun license is usually general and multi-purpose including hunting guns. Recently, the Minister of Interior issued a decision that restricts the license to a specific gun with its serial number (does not allow hunting except for hunting guns).
According to the Law, legal hunting is permitted only during the day, in specific seasons (15 September-31 January), and for certain game species (all other bird species, local or migratory, are completely protected). Hunting is banned during the breeding season (spring season). Hunters should have a gun license, an insurance policy against others, and a hunting license. A hunting license is issued Ministry of Environment based on an exam organized at “Hunting Clubs” that are certified by the ministry. Certain hunting methods namely: semi-automatic shooting guns, bow archery, dogs, and falconry are only permitted. Restrictions include: hunting at night, hunting out of season, hunting on private land without permission, hunting on land with “no hunting” signs, and hunting on agricultural land with crops that are still not harvested. Restrictions include: hunting without a hunting license, hunting with illegal equipment, and hunting non-game species. It is strictly forbidden to hunt in cities, villages, picnic areas, public gardens, protected areas; and areas that have been categorized as important heritage sites, or less than 500 meters distance from residential areas, religious sites, or public or private infrastructure, even if a hunter is using arms that work by air or gas pressure. It is also prohibited to display hunted prey in the car and on the main roads. Hunting on mountains covered by snow is not permissible. Trapping in general is illegal in Lebanon, but not for pest species announced by the Ministry. It is completely banned to remove bird nests, take, destroy, or sell bird eggs, or young birds/animals. Only scientists are allowed to trap birds and animals for scientific purposes and then release them. They are also allowed to take bird eggs for research. They should get a special license from the Ministry of Environment based on a request addressed to the National Council for Scientific Research.
The Middle East Sustainable Hunting Center (MESHC), along with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), Birdlife International Lebanon partner, is implementing, at the national and international levels, a number of projects aimed at protecting migratory birds, including the Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project funded by the Global Environment Forum (GEF), and the project to preserve the Egyptian Vulture – The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE Project funded by the European Union, as well as the Safe Flyways for Bird Migration in the Mediterranean, a project funded by the Swiss Foundation MAVA Foundation.

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