Drunk men risk jail for killing bird in Germany

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The endangered capercaillie
The endangered capercaillie

German police issued an appeal on Wednesday for witnesses who might have filmed a fatal weekend attack by two drunk men on an endangered capercaillie in the Black Forest village of Feldberg.

Police said they had indications that the attack on the endangered bird, also known as a wood grouse, had been observed by passers-by when it occurred during a festival in the village on Saturday.

An investigation into animal abuse and possible infringement of conservation legislation by two men aged 20 and 22 has been launched.

The men said they were attacked by the male capercaillie, which typically weigh around four kilograms, and acted in self-defence.

They said they themselves were then attacked by a crowd of 10 people.

The men could face up to three years in prison or a fine if found guilty of killing an animal without reasonable grounds.

Capercaillie cocks are much larger and colourful than the hens of the species.

They are known for their mating display.

The western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is the largest member of the grouse family that is known for its elaborate mating displays.

It lives across Europe and central Asia usually in mature conifer forests and was once found in the taiga forests of northern Eurasia.

At one point, it was extinct in Scotland but a reintroduction programme bringing birds from Sweden has once more established it.

It died out in Ireland in the 18th century and is endangered in Germany, where it was once common.

The main reason this bird is endangered is the loss of the habitat where it lives.

Diverse native forests across the country have been removed in favour of single-species plantations to be used for timber.

Another threat to them are the fences erected to keep deer away from the new trees, which they often collided with.

An imbalance in the predators that hunt these birds is another issue: there are a lot more small predators such as foxes because there are no big predators such as the grey wolf.


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