Between the afternoon of April 30th and the morning of the first of May an intense flow of migratory raptors, mostly Honey Buzzards, crossed the Strait of Messina passing through the area between the Catona's Valley in the south and the hills above Bagnara town in the north. Sadly tens of poachers took advantage of this early morning passage of birds to shot at raptors, thanks also to the low flight altitude of migrating hawks. Shooting against birds of prey have been heard in the upper areas of the municipalities of Scilla and San Roberto within the Natura 2000 site "Costa Viola" and up to the vicinity of the border of the Aspromonte National Park. A trick used by poachers was to shot close to firing ranges to mix their gunshots with those of the sportsmen.
The struggle conducted by environmental associations and the State Forestry Corps since the 80s has produced brilliant results and today poaching on the Strait of Messina is limited to a small number of fanatical nostalgics.
Yet we know that on rare occasions, usually once per season, the poachers take advantage of particular weather conditions and of raptors' passage to go out again to shoot the birds of prey. They are helped by ruggedness of the Aspromonte area and by the isolation of many places that are not easy to reach despite the proximity to the coast.
Our associations have been working at the Strait of Messina since years to monitor and study raptor migration in collaboration with Italian and international research institutions. Ornithologists and volunteers from all over the world take part in our activities, and they are astonished by the emergence of these antisocial episodes.
We ask Italian and European institutions to make their part garanteeing a stronger presence on the territory and we ask the Prefecture of Reggio Calabria to stop the activity of firing ranges in areas of raptors' passage during the migratory periods. However, we are convinced that the militarization of the territory is not the solution to this problem. It is necessary that governmental, European, regional and local institutions deal and support much more the biodiversity conservation, the monitoring and research projects, the environmental education and the ecotourism in the Strait of Messina area. That is the only area of international relevance for the migration of birds of prey in the Central Mediterranean area. A peculiarity that makes special and precious this territory but also a responsibility for everyone.