Maltese hunters kill chance of 190,000 chicks each spring – SHout Report

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Maltese hunters kill chance of 190,000 chicks each spring - SHout ReportUpdate: Moira Delia has launched the SHout report on shocking effects of spring hunting, saying that “spring never comes for the hunted.”

According to a report launched today by TV presenter and animal activist Moira Delia and bird enthusiast and BirdLife Malta Trustee Mark Sultana for the Spring Hunting Out Campaign, Maltese hunters kill the chance of 190,000 chicks being born each spring.

Speaking at a press conference in Ghadira Nature Reserve, Moira Delia made a powerful speech about the cruel effects of spring hunting on wild birds. “190,000 eggs are not laid each year because Maltese hunters shoot their parents out of the sky. The lives lost are not just those of the birds killed, but also those stolen from the next generation. This is why spring never comes for the hunted.”

Mark Sultana said that the spring hunting season “acts as a cover for the targeting of rare and protected birds, with over 38 protected species of birds being illegally shot in Malta during the last four spring hunting seasons.” These include blue rock thrush, Malta’s national bird, and pallid harriers, Europe’s rarest bird of prey, he said.

Moira Delia added that “Countless protected birds are shot in Malta each year, and many are just left to die in agony in the countryside.”

Mark Sultana explained that EU law makes it illegal to hunt birds in spring, and that “Malta is the only country to allow hunting of birds in spring purely for fun.”

He said that “the spring hunting season allows 11,000 turtle dove and 5,000 quail to be shot over three weeks, although many more are killed by Malta’s 10,000 hunters. Thousands of birds will never make it back home to breed, putting future generations of birds in danger.”

Mark Sultana stated that “turtle doves are in real danger across Europe, over 20 million of these birds have disappeared since 1980. Spring hunting is endangering their survival.”

Ms Delia urged everyone to speak up and make their voice heard “We cannot continue to steal from future generations, this is why we voters must turn out on 11 April and vote ‘no’ to end this destruction.”

Update: Response from KSU

Kaccaturi San Ubertu said in a statement this afternoon that it “deplores the false propaganda being fed to an uniformed public by the Coalition Against Spring Hunting, known as SHout, about the impact of spring hunting on Turtle Dove and Quail.”

The KSU said that quota negotiated with the European Commission for spring derogation by the previous administration is within the 1% of the species mortality rate contemplated by the European Birds Directive and is considered sustainable based on the bird’s Conservation Status and population figures.

“The global populations of these two species as calculated by Birdlife International are that of up to 100,000,000 Turtle Doves of which 25 to 40% form part of the European population. The Quail is even more numerous with up to 300,000,000 individuals of which 5 to 24% in Europe,” it said.

The KSU added, “these bird’s Conservation Status is evaluated by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature IUCN, referred to by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which states: “Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable. The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.”

“According to European Directives all game birds evaluated as Least Concern can be sustainably hunted under derogation endorsed by the European Court of Justice,” the KSU concluded.

Photograph: Holly Forsyth

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    4 Responses

    1. Amy says:

      I am pleased to see your report which is in contrast to some of your political parties vote grabbing support for the hunt.

      These numbers are shocking for a small group of islands with a population of less than half a million, truly shocking. It will only fuel more talk and protest over Malta’s illegal wild bird hunting here in the UK and Europe.

      In the harsh winter of 1890-91 in Britain, national newspapers asked people to put out food for birds and it has become a national past time ever since, even during the two world wars. Today of the 64+ million people in the UK, many, many millions of these people are feeding and protecting wild birds at great expense to themselves.
      They are putting up bird tables, feeders, nest boxes, planting their gardens for birds and putting in ponds to make their gardens more bird friendly and installing wild life cameras to see the action. All of this is because of the seriously declining numbers of many species here in the UK and our overall love of all wild life.

      Malta’s spring hunt understandably angers those millions of people here who are collectively spending several millions of pounds each year in bird food and products to help the many endangered species survive.
      Their joint anger is now spilling over into action as our dawn chorus is shot down over your lands. Malta is being talked of as a no go holiday destination in protest.

      The specter of that alone should give the Maltese government pause for thought and the guts to ban the spring hunt outright, never mind a so called limp wrist democratic vote.
      It is Illegal, what makes the Maltese think they have a right to vote on it when the rest of the EU upholds the ban?

      These wild birds do not belong to Malta, they belong to everyone and we too are counting the numbers, the declining numbers. Each year in January we all count the wild birds in our gardens and collective counts are made of each species across the country wide grid. We are waiting for this year’s result hoping to see a small increase in numbers. We are also tracking birds now more than ever before and we can see where they go and when they leave an area.

      Bird song is much more enjoyable than silence. A competitive past time here is shooting birds with a camera, it is proof you spotted that species we don’t need a corpse.

    2. Mick Cundy says:

      Whilst I support your comments I have to say that the Maltese do have a right to vote on this as they had the right to derogation in the first place. Also, one should not interfere nor comment on the politics of this situation unless one lives here. I doubt if you would brook any interference from the Maltese in UK politics etc. (In my humble opinion – of course.) I will of course be voting to stop spring hunting in the referendum.

    3. george palmer says:

      What a contrast between the caring and conservation organisation and the brutes from the KSU. Once again we are fed boring rhetoric from these hideous people. Roll on the Referendum and then ban ALL hunting and trapping.

    4. Amy says:

      Fair comment Mick and glad to hear you will vote stop it.
      As for our politics feel free to ripe them apart, we hate the lot of them, leaving us with no party we would willingly vote for.

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