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Shot down: Injured birds on the island of Föhr

The injuries of this bird indicate shotgun pellets.
Photo: Screenshot from the video

At night hunting trips many birds are shot

The association Elmeere renatures farmland on the island Föhr, so that native birds can settle. But again and again these birds are shot by hunters.

The island of Föhr is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in Germany. Unfortunately, there are also dark sides on this island. Again and again birds are shot there and left injured in nature, where they die miserably.

For the hunters , it is a natural process. When the seasons are over, feathered game is hunted, which is not protected by the hunting and sanctuary ordinance. Jochen Muxfeldt, chairman of Nordfriesland County Hunters' Association, explains: "The hunting of game birds may only be carried out with trained hunting dogs - they will find injured animals." So far the theory.

But the nature conservationist Dieter Risse draws a different picture. He tells of many birds that remain injured, who are not collected, but flightless, lying on the ground bleeding and dying miserably there. Again and again, Dieter Risse collects such animals and brings them to the vet, where they are treated or euthanized.

Even at night hunting is partially allowed. "In the districts of Nordfriesland, Dithmarschen, Steinburg and on Fehmarn, Wigeons may also be hunted at night, " explains Jochen Muxfeldt. The Wigeon is not welcome because it has a lot to eat. Farmers fear for their crops. Otherwise, the hunt for sunset rest.

Room for doubt remains. If you hunt at night, how can you rule out that birds other than wigeons are not shot or shot? And how do you make sure that all injured animals are found? Apparently this does not succeed without exception.

Photo: Screenshot from the video

In the following video you can see the injured animals. Her injuries are typical for shotgun bullets, according to the veterinarian.

WARNING: This video shows disturbing content especially from 8:00 onwards and is not for the faint of heart!

Dieter Risse especially hurts the misery of injured birds because he has dedicated his life to the conservation of special bird species on the island. Twenty years ago he founded the association Elmeere, which buys and fuses farmland on Föhr, so that native bird species can settle there again. Meanwhile, the club owns 111 hectares, about 1 percent of the soil of the island of Föhr.

The bird life on the island is particularly worthy of protection because Föhr is in no way connected to the mainland. "That's why there are no big animals like foxes or martens here, so birds that prefer to live on the ground can live here, " explains Dieter Risse. And further: "The island of Föhr is ecologically very special - if nature conservation is not worthwhile here, it is worthwhile nowhere."

Apart from island-typical birds, Dieter Risse has also brought the storks back to Föhr. Storks were already extinct on Föhr. But the conservationist has resettled her by bringing the first flightless pair of storks to the island.

Julia could not fly after an accident, Romeo had been trimmed as a hand rearing from a small on the wings.

After Romeo's feathers grew, he flew over the island and found places to land and fish. Since storks learn from their parents and the other storks of their group where to fish and land, and he had never flown before, he just did not know it better and chose the saltwater of the North Sea for fishing. He has taught his offspring and wild storks that later immigrated to Föhr, this nonsense. Meanwhile, the descendants of Romeo and Juliet live distributed throughout Germany and are also increasingly sighted in neighboring countries.

Here Dieter Risse is seen repairing a stork nest. Photo: Andrea Klostermann

Many residents protect their roofs with dangerous thorns

Unfortunately, some of the inhabitants of Föhr are not that enthusiastic about the storks. Some of the house roofs are barricaded with thorns, where inexperienced young birds can mortally hurt. There are non-dangerous alternatives, such as attaching balls or triangles to keep the storks from landing on the roofs.

Unfortunately, the thorny roofs are not the end. Again and again, reports Dieter Risse, the activities of the association Elmeere are sabotaged. Info signs, land fences and bird observation cameras are destroyed.

The conflict between farmers, hunters and conservationists continues to smolder. Even a mediator of the state government could not finally clarify the points of conflict. After all, it was possible to significantly reduce the conflicting borders between the Elmerere and the farmland by exchanging land. A final agreement of opposing interests is hardly possible. The only thing left to the conservationists is to ask the hunters for more thorough searches, and to buy more land.

If you would like to support the association Elmeere in the protection of birds on the island of Föhr, you can find more information on the website Donations are 100 percent used for the purchase of land, assures Dieter Risse.

Photos: Andrea Klostermann (