BLM reports illegal hunting in Gozo this week and still no Ornis meeting
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Today marks the start of this year’s autumn hunting season and BirdLife Malta is calling for an urgent meeting of the Ornis Committee in view of “not being officially contacted about the Committee despite what was stated in a Government statement on Tuesday.”
BLM said in a statement today said that up till this morning BirdLife Malta had not yet received any form of official communication about the reappointment of this Committee, “let alone a call for a meeting to discuss and plan enforcement as usually happens before any hunting season commences.”
The NGO went on to say that on Tuesday it had received “various reports of hunting at sea and information was relayed to the police concerning hunting at sea of Flamingos from powerboats in Gozo.”
“Various flocks have been seen migrating along the Maltese Islands’ coast with a flock of around 300 Flamingos seen on the day over Comino,” BLM said.
It added that “on Wednesday afternoon, a hunter was seen shooting down two birds of prey at Ras il-Wardija in Gozo. The police responded an hour later and to our knowledge they did not reach the area by foot as their vehicle could not reach the site.”
BirdLife said that,”also on Wednesday, a group of hunters was reported to the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) police unit for hunting at Fawwara even though the hunting season was closed.”
BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said that this morning he has written to Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Josè Herrera pointing out that BirdLife Malta has not yet been notified about Ornis and called for an urgent meeting of the Committee.
Mark Sultana explained that BirdLife Malta is worried, “as this gives the impression that the Government is not taking environmental law enforcement seriously thus sending a message to those that tend to break the law that they should not worry about being apprehended.”
Sultana stated that, “this would result in more illegal hunting cases during the season that every year is being used as a a smokescreen to illegally shoot other protected birds such as birds of prey which would be migrating over the Maltese Islands on their way to central Africa. Recent incidents we had this year during the closed season confirm that unless enforcement is efficient more protected birds will be shot.”
According to BirdLife Malta, “other reports over the past days were about shots which were heard in various locations in the early morning as Turtle Dove migration is underway.”
“The places mentioned include Zabbar, Delimara and Dingli. On announcing this year’s autumn hunting season, the Government also communicated this year’s quotas for the hunting of Turtle Dove.” BLM added that, “these were supposed to be effective as from today but Turtle Dove hunting was already happening before this date.”
BirdLife Malta concluded by saying that, “during the autumn hunting season which is open for five whole months until 31st January 2018, the laws allow for the killing of 40 species of birds. It is estimated that Malta has around 10,000 licensed hunters which is the highest density of hunters in any European Union country.”