A group of Italian government officials are under investigation for feasting on a lunch of wild songbirds — including some that were a rare species, a report said Monday.
Carabinieri officers busted the lavish meal, which also defied COVID-19 guidelines, and found the illegally hunted creatures on the menu, the Telegraph reported.
The banquet secretly held in a government building near the city of Brescia included rare tiny birds such as hawfinches and red crossbills.
Chaffinches, goldfinches, siskins and bramblings were also ready to be devoured.
Around 20 public officials from the villages of Valle Trompia and Gardone Val Trompia had been in attendance at the lunch, the outlet reported.
In addition to possibly breaking wildlife protection and hunting laws, the group is being investigated for violating coronavirus lockdown rules, which prohibit gatherings of more than a few people, the outlet reported.
Italy’s National Association for the Protection of Animals slammed the group for acting above the law.
“We are disappointed and angered – those who should be leading by example are often those who don’t care about the law,” the organization said, the Telegraph reported.
The Anti-Hunting League said the feast was “shameful,” but noted that Brescia region is “the worst in Italy, and one of the worst in Europe, for poaching.”
Songbirds in some parts of Europe are considered a delicacy — with the ancient Romans enjoying meals of quails, doves, peacocks and flamingoes.