Casualties of spring hunting – Details released by BirdLife Malta
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This afternoon BirdLife Malta released photographs of the 18 injured and dead protected birds it received during the recent spring hunting season, together with descriptions of the injuries each bird had sustained after being shot illegally by hunters targeting these protected species.
Every one of these birds is protected in Malta and Europe, and every one was examined by a veterinarian and confirmed as having been shot.
The list of injuries sustained by these birds includes shattered wing and leg bones, severed limbs, open chest wounds, lead shotgun pellets lodged in the body and blinded eyes. BirdLife Malta’s conservation manager, Nicholas Barbara, said “In the three months from January 1st up to the start of the hunting season on April 12th we received just eight shot protected birds. The 18 birds we received during the hunting season came in just three weeks.”
BirdLife also published a graph (shown above) comparing the number of shot protected birds recovered for the same period (10th – 30th April) this year and in previous years, going back to 2006. “This gives some indication of the number of protected birds that have fallen victim to illegal hunting during this period,” said Mr Barbara. “It is very clear thet when the spring hunting season was closed in 2008 and 2009, and boycotted in 2010, there appears to have been a significant reduction in the number of protected birds killed.”
The number of birds killed between the 10th and 30th April this year is only one less than during the same period last year, apparently contradicting government claims of reduced targeting of protected birds as a result of effective enforcement.
“Each of these 18 birds represents a case of shooting at a protected species,” said Mr Barbara, “and none of them will be recorded in government figures, as none of them will ever lead to a suspect being prosecuted.”
“It is absurd to point to these figures, as the hunting lobby and government regularly do, and claim that these are the only protected birds that have been shot during the spring hunting season,” Mr Barbara argued. “We have seen many more protected birds flying with typical gunshot injuries and others have been witnessed being shot at and shot down during the season. That fact that the police have not apprehended anyone in any of these cases should not be a cause for celebration.”