Michael says his association strictly supports lime stick trapping because it’s been passed down from father to son for centuries, but frowns upon the more modern and more indiscriminate mist nets.
‘‘Like my father, I would wake up and go out to set traps and I would think of nothing else,’’ says Michael. ‘‘Ambelopoulia aren’t going to disappear, there’s so many of them, how many can poachers possibly catch anyway? Birds are there to be eaten.’’
Michael says politicians let trappers down during the country’s EU membership talks by not asking to allow lime stick trapping as a traditional form of hunting. EU officials say there’s no going back to allow for such an exemption.
But for authorities and conservationists alike, the rhapsodizing about tradition simply rings hollow. Both lime sticks and mist nets are non-selective trapping methods that can ensnare threatened birds such as the cuckoo, golden oriole and nightingale.
Axel Hirschfeld, spokesman for The Committee against Bird Slaughter, a group that for several years has dispatched volunteers to the island to help stop trapping, scoffs at the idea that tradition justifies the culling of endangered birds.
‘‘I come from any area in Germany where they used to burn witches,’’ said Hirschfeld. ‘‘Maybe it’s time for these traditions in Cyprus to go away as well.’’