Raptors saved from a cruel fate – BirdLife

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Raptors saved from a cruel fate - BirdLifeTwo wild birds of prey (raptors), a Short-eared Owl and a Common Kestrel, that were illegally kept in captivity in terrible conditions were found and handed over to BirdLife Malta by members of public over the last few weeks.

Both birds were examined by an independent vet, who confirmed that the Kestrel had an old, poorly healed gunshot injury to its wing which made the bird incapable of flight. Furthermore its wing feathers were crudely hacked off and the bird was suffering abrasions to its forehead and wings.

The Short-eared Owl was in such bad condition that its wing and tail feathers were worn down to half their normal length because of its closed confinement. The bird’s legs were covered in burns caused by standing for prolonged periods of time in its own faeces. The bird was emaciated and starving when found.

Dr Andre Raine, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager said: “The people behind this act are not only breaking the law by keeping protected birds in captivity(1), but are also torturing these animals by chopping of their feathers and keeping them in such terrible conditions. This is a very sad fate for such majestic birds that are used to soaring free in the sky but instead end up starving and mutilated.”

The Owl was delivered to BirdLife after being dumped in the countryside and found by a farmer in a field in Siggiewi. In a separate incident the police contacted BirdLife about a Kestrel which was found by a member of the public in Rabat.

BirdLife Malta reported both cases to the Office of the Prime Minister and MEPA and the birds are currently being rehabilitated.

1) LN 79 of 2006 prohibits the capture and keeping of protected species under Annex I, under which all birds of prey fall. To view LN 79 of 2006 please visit: http://doi.gov.mt/EN/legalnotices/2006/default.asp

Photograph on the left shows that this Short-eared Owl was recovered starving, emaciated and needing specialist veterinary care after having been illegally kept in terrible conditions. (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

Photograph on right shows an old, poorly healed gunshot injury and wing feathers hacked off with scissors, which mean that this Kestrel can never fly again. (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

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