Illegal hunting is the highest in the past 3 years, says BirdLife Malta

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Illegal hunting is the highest in the past 3 years, says BirdLife MaltaBirdLife Malta, in a statement today, has said that “illegal hunting is the highest in the past three years” and that the moratorium on Turtle Dove “lacks commitment and enforcement is at an all-time low,” with, it claimed, “police now being caught taking part in illegalities.” It also said that “the situation in Gozo is particularly worrying.”

Referring to the situation in Gozo, BirdLife Malta stated that, “Gozitan police officers are also being investigated by the internal investigating unit of the Malta Police Force in relation to the well documented incident in which British naturalist and TV personality Chris Packham was involved in a few weeks ago in Gozo.”

According to BirdLife, “in Gozo, the situation, is particularly worrying. Whilst some of the Gozitan police are hunters themselves, at the same time they are expected to patrol the hunting season, the reality being that the police are normally only reactive taking hardly any proactive measures to ensure that hunting regulations are observed.”

BirdLife said that a total of 15 known shot protected birds were retrieved in Malta and Gozo during the 2017 spring hunting season which ran between the 26th of March and the 14th of April. Thirteen of these were recovered by BirdLife Malta alone, one was recovered by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), and the other by the police.

The NGO went on to say that “by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit’s (WBRU) own admission, this means that 10% of all the birds known to have been shot during the 2017 spring hunting season (15 out of 145) were illegally targeted protected birds, based on the fact that hunters declared 130 Quails caught during the hunting season.”

It added that “more worryingly than this is the fact that hunting has continued illegally after the end of the spring hunting season, in particular on Turtle Doves, despite the moratorium in place this year.” “A further five shot protected birds have been recovered up until today,” BLM added, “pushing the total of known illegally shot protected birds this spring up to 20. Sadly, only four of all these birds survived.”

“Close to 1,000 shots fired during the closed season were counted between the 16th of April and the 3rd of May.”

BirdLife Malta said that, “our teams recorded shots fired in various locations in Malta and Gozo on a daily basis by an average of four teams per day. Hunters have also been recorded donning masks to hide their identity in various areas, specifically when targeting Turtle Doves during their peak migration.”

It stated that “as regards to police presence in the field, this was weak after the closure of the season too, with the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) not being in the field at all in some days due to EU Presidency commitments, leaving matters to district police.”

BirdLife argued that “testimony of the lack of police initiative in the field is the fact that this spring we only had two known illegal hunting cases that ended up in court.”

The NGO concluded its statement by saying that “all this points to the need for the setting up of a professional and permanently responsive Wildlife Crime Unit which would be independent and totally dedicated to wildlife crime, without it being influenced politically or taken up by other major events in the country. Only this would deliver the true commitment needed for the conservation of wild birds such as in the case of the vulnerable Turtle Dove.”

Photo: Protected birds which were illegally shot this spring (Photos by BirdLife Malta)

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    1 Response

    1. george palmer says:

      I reported an incident of illegal hunting that I viewed from my patio. The hunter hid the shotgun in a bush. The police arrived and watched the hunter drive away. They then spent half an hour ‘looking’ for the shotgun and knew I was watching them with binoculars. Eventually the officer conceded and ‘found’ the gun and held it high for me to see. I never heard another thing. I am an ex police officer from London and couldn’t believe how bent these guys were. This was in Gozo in 2012. Clearly things have only got worse.

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