A group of hunters from Italy were recently stopped while boarding a ferry in Kristiansand, just before they were about to smuggle more than 2,000 small frozen dead birds out of the country. Among them were blackbirds and larks, which are illegal to hunt in Norway.
The seizure was the result of quick coordination among the state economic crime unit Økokrim, police in the southern county of Agder and the customs authority (Tolletaten) in Kristiansand. Økokrim had received a tip from the public, it warned the Agder Police District and both it and customs reacted swiftly.
Meat from the birds can be considered a delicacy in some countries, but such hunting is mostly illegal and only one of the hunters had a hunting permit in Norway. Each of the hunters was fined NOK 15,000 and their bounty was seized. “We were able to uncover serious environmental crime and a grave attempt at smuggling,” customs inspector Per Otto Smithsen told news bureau NTB. “In my 25 years with the customs service, I’ve never stopped anyone with so many illegally killed birds before.” Blackbirds in Norway are especially prized for singing, often in the dead of night, late winter and spring.