Licence suspended for life & €5000 fine for shooting protected bird
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BirdLife Malta has said that a hunter was this afternoon fined €5,000 and had his hunting licence suspended for life, while his shotgun was also confiscated in connection with an illegal hunting incident which happened at L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha last week.
The NGO added that it was footage taken by BirdLife Malta which landed the hunter in court over the shooting of a protected Stone Curlew (Tellerita) last Thursday. This was the 13th casualty of this year’s spring hunting season which came to a close the following day, it said.
BirdLife continued that the hunter was seen shooting at the bird and subsequently filmed retrieving the dead bird at L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha. The edited video is shown below.
“After the incident, the same hunter was filmed taking a shot at another migrating Stone Curlew but missed the bird. Police were called to the scene and BirdLife Malta staff directed them to the location of the incident where the bird was hidden. It was found and retrieved by the police. The hunter had fled the scene.”
BirdLife said that the video footage was passed to the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit and helped the police to identify and press charges against the suspect.
By the season’s closure on Friday the toll of known shot protected birds had risen to a total of 15, BirdLife Malta said.
It added that, “according to the Wild Birds Regulation Unit’s Head Sergei Golovkin Sergei Golovkin, this year’s season was a rather poor season in terms of spring migration with only 130 Quails shot.”
“So by the WBRU’s own admission this means that 10% of the birds known to have been shot this spring season (15 out of a total of 145) were illegally targeted protected birds,” stated the NGO.
BirdLife Malta also announced that its annual Spring Watch to monitor peak Turtle Dove migration will start tomorrow.
This year 16 international volunteers are joining BirdLife Malta staff and local residents to ensure that as many of these birds as possible make it safely over Malta, explained Filip Wieckowski, who will be running the camp this year.
He stated that “the recent uplisting of the Turtle Dove’s status makes it clearer than ever that to target this species in the spring is unsustainable, irresponsible and short-sighted. I hope that this season will see cooperative action from the authorities, the hunting community and our Spring Watch team to protect these birds as they journey to their breeding grounds further north.”
Spring Watch will run till the end of April and during this period BirdLife Malta said that it strongly urges the public to report any suspected illegalities by contacting the police on 119 and then BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645/6 or on the emergency (out of office hours) number 7925 5697.
BirdLife Malta said that “according to framework legislation concerning spring hunting the Malta Police Force is obliged to field a minimum of 20 officers at any one time during this period.”
Photo: Mellieha hunter picking up shot Stone Curlew (Photo by BirdLife Malta)