Spring hunting closes off nearly 80% of countryside from the public – SHout
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Television presenter Kevin Mercieca and new ambassadors Alison Bezzina and Jo Caruana joined the SHout campaign in Mosta Gardens today to launch a report about the impact of spring hunting on people’s right to enjoy the countryside.
In his first appearance as a SHout campaign spokesperson, television presenter Kevin Mercieca highlighted the fact that the Maltese countryside is taken over by hunters in spring, with hunting allowed on almost 80% of our countryside.
He said, “with 10,000 hunters allowed to hunt on almost 80% of the Maltese countryside in spring, that leaves precious little space for the rest of us to enjoy it with our friends and families.”
Kevin said he knew people who were afraid to walk or picnic on public land during the hunting season, land they had a right to enjoy, because of the presence of hunters.
“Some hunters illegally erect signs saying ‘Privat’ or ‘RTO’ to keep people off public land. Sadly, cases of intimidation and harassment from some hunters towards members of the public are not uncommon. Even the very sound of constant gunfire and the showers of lead shot make it impossible for people to enjoy their countryside in spring.”
Mr Mercieca, who told the press that members of his own family are hunters, continued, “the countryside is one of the only places that is free for people to go, and I strongly believe that everyone of us should be able to enjoy it in spring without fear or intimidation.”
Television presenter and animal activist Moira Delia described spring as the best time of year to visit the countryside in Malta, but spoke of the negative experiences that individuals had suffered while trying to walk with family and friends during the spring hunting seasons.
“People trying to enjoy the Maltese countryside in the spring can feel like they are taking their life in their hands.” said Ms Delia.
“They are at risk of being verbally abused, assaulted or even hit with lead shot. In the report, one person talks about having rocks thrown at them by hunters, while another has been showered in lead pellets from shotguns. These experiences are not uncommon. Is this what we want for our children?” She asked.
Moira also highlighted the impact on people living close to where hunting takes place. “Residents may find dead birds on their property while others cannot sleep because of the of loud electronic bird callers that are played through the night by hunters trying to attract birds down to shoot, and the barrage of shots going off even before the sun comes up.”
Both Moira and Kevin urged the public to “do what is right,” and vote ‘no’ to end spring hunting on 11 April. Also present at the press conference in Mosta Gardens were campaign ambassadors Alison Bezzina, Jo Caruana, and spokesperson Mark Sultana.
Photograph by Steven Williams