Three trucks carrying lambs sanctioned by traffic police thanks to our investigation

© Essere Animali

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Three trucks carrying lambs sanctioned by traffic police thanks to our investigation



Francesco Ceccarelli
Head of investigations

Between 9th and 11th April, we carried out intense monitoring activity of the trucks used for the transport of lambs at the border with Slovenia.

As the Easter holidays approach, there is a rise in the imports of lambs arriving in Italy following exhausting journeys. Last year, in the days before Easter, over 140,000 lambs a few months old were transported primarily from Romania and Hungary to the slaughtering plants located mainly in Lazio and Apulia, enduring journeys lasting from 24 to 30 hours.

For this reason, we carried out intense monitoring activity of the trucks used for the transport of live animals. We covered over 2,500 km and 50 hours of monitoring. Also present, on Sunday 10 April, was MEP Eleonora Evi, co-national spokesperson for Green Europe and member of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT), the creation of which she strongly supported.

What we did

We identified four vehicles, three of which were sanctioned. Of these, two were from Hungary and one from Romania, each carrying over 700 lambs across four floors. We reported them to the authorities and followed at a distance for a total of over 2,500 km, until the traffic police intercepted them respectively in Ferrara, Rovigo, and Udine.

The roadblock set up by the traffic police in the Gonars Nord service area in the province of Udine on 7 April.
© Essere Animali

Violations concerned the insufficient height of the compartments, which did not allow the animals to move naturally. The lambs touched the upper floor of the compartment with their heads, a condition that can cause bumps, bruises, and burns, as well as preventing adequate ventilation of the compartments. Penalties for this type of violations can reach up to 6,000 euros.

According to the EU regulation, lambs transported in trucks without forced ventilation, such as those sanctioned, should be transported in compartments that guarantee at least 30 cm of space between the lamb’s head and the upper floor, when the animal is in upright position. A requirement that was clearly not respected.

We also documented a lamb that traveled for hours with one leg stuck between the truck bars.

Trucks present several critical points where lambs get trapped. Most of them get stuck into the gap between the shelf floor and the external bulkhead.

Another issue regards the watering system installed in the vehicles, which is unsuitable for lambs. In fact, many lambs were clearly thirsty. This is a striking example of the regulatory gaps currently present which, combined with high transport densities that hinder the movement of animals towards the teats, puts lambs at risk of suffering from thirst and potentially dehydration.

On farms or even on pastures, lambs are used to drinking from buckets, which is why once they are on a truck they don’t understand how to use “teats” mounted on the vehicle.

MEP Eleonora Evi stated: «Every year, close to the Easter holidays, we witness the slaughter of thousands of lambs who are stolen from their mothers, transported on nightmare journeys for up to 30 hours, piled up, without food, water, or adequate space to move. They are then brutally killed in slaughterhouses to end up on our tables in respect of a cruel and anachronistic tradition. For this reason I decided to give my support to Essere Animali».

We want more from European institutions

The purpose of these monitoring activities is not only to identify and report any irregularities in transport, we also want to appeal to the European Commission so that, in the process of revising the EU transport regulation, it goes beyond the recommendations voted in Parliament, adopting the requests of European citizens and civil society.

We have to change this system, and we have to do it now, because there is no more time to waste.
Eleonora EviMEP

«Our appeal is addressed in particular to the European Commission to bring an end to the senselessness of legislation that allows an animal to be born in one country, reared in another, and slaughtered in yet another. It is no coincidence that Europe is the continent that exports the largest number of live animals. We have to change this system, and we have to do it now, because there is no more time to waste», Evi added.

Eleonora Evi in macchina durante l’inseguimento di un camion carico di agnelli proveniente dall’Ungheria.
© Essere Animali

We thank MEP Eleonora Evi for her valuable collaboration, and police forces for their timely intervention. We will inform the European Commission and the Minister of Health of the outcome of the violations, providing images that document this alarming reality. The European Regulation, in addition to being frequently violated, is unable to concretely protect animals. Today it is legal to transport lambs less than two months old for journeys lasting up to 30 hours, subjecting them to conditions that cause them great stress and suffering.

Together with other NGOs from all over Europe, we are calling for greater animal protection, such as a ban on the transport of live animals over long distances and unweaned animals. The European Union has the opportunity to really improve the conditions of animals; it shouldn’t betray the demands of its citizens.

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