Last night, the better half and me went to the E Street Cinema to see “Field Report: Migratory Bird Trapping in South China,” an eight minute short, followed by “Emptying the Skies” (78 minutes). Afterward, a discussion took place with moderator Bruce Beehler, National Museum of Natural History, Douglas Kass, Emptying the Skies filmmaker and Gerrit Vyn, Cornell Lab photographer and producer.
The first film focused on the trapping of migratory birds in southern China. Poachers use nets to catch the endangered species birds, which are sold to restaurants in the Guandong Province. The sight of these trapped migratory birds is heart-wrenching. But in some cases, activists, members of CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter), are able to get to them before it is too late, and release them.
China is not the only place where this crisis is unfolding. Emptying The Skies talks about a similar problem in Europe. Author Jonathan Franzen joined CABS activists as they worked to stop the illegal trapping. Franzen wrote an article in The New Yorker.
In many countries, laws are on the books to protect birds, but not enforced. The activists have been harassed and beaten by poachers.
During Q&A, Kass provided an update about the four European activists who were recently arrested for trespassing and damaging the traps. A judge in Cyprus ruled in their favor and the charges were dropped. The bird trapper was fined for possessing limesticks.