Update 2: BirdLife Malta retrieves another four injured protected birds
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Update 2 with PN and Government statements below: During the last few hours BirdLife Malta said that it has retrieved another four injured protected birds after they received reports from from the public.
The four birds – two Grey Herons and two Marsh Harriers – were taken to the veterinarian earlier this afternoon.
BLM has said that the veterinarian has just confirmed that two out of the four injured birds received during the last hours have been shot.
“Both Grey Herons which were earlier today shown to the press before being examined by the vet have evident gunshot injuries. The other two injured birds of prey, both Marsh Harriers, could not be confirmed as having been shot,” said BLM.
In a press conference BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana and Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara, said that “since the start of the season on the 1st of September we have received 11 known shot protected birds, with the two confirmed today, it now brings the total to 13.”
The NGO said that one of the two herons recovered during the past hours was shot in the Nwadar National Park perimeter where hunting is allowed.
CEO Mark Sultana explained that BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves have ideal habitats for Flamingos and herons,” but this is useless when such protected species are being continuously targeted.”
He expressed BirdLife Malta’s disgust at the shooting of protected birds during the autumn hunting season, and said “the police are doing too little to stop the illegalities pointing out that yesterday, for instance, just three police units (around 10 officers) were out in the field.”
“How can these three units possibly monitor 10,000 hunters during this season?” he asked.
He added that, “apart from lack of enforcement, there is no political will to bring this abusive situation to an end, and it is now more clear than ever that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s zero tolerance statement after the last election was just a gimmick.”
In a statement referring to the incidents of the weekend, when two Flamingos and other protected birds were shot, Adrian Delia the Leader of the Nationalist Party, the spokesperson on the Environment Karol Aquilina and the PN spokesperson on Animal Welfare Mario Galea, said that these cases has found condemnation by everyone.
“The Maltese and Gozitans, particularly the hunting community, can not turn a blind eye to this.” they said.
“The PN is appealing to the thousands of hunters, a willingness to cooperate with the police and the authorities concerned to help track down those who violate the law, so as to pay for their actions.”
The PN said, “such acts not only undermine the environmental credentials of our country, but are casting a shadow over the thousands of hunters who act responsibly and observe the law.”
“It is evident that the Government is failing to enforce the law in this area – a promise that was made following the referendum two years ago – to ensure that incidents such as those this week, would no longer happen,” the PN stated.
The Minister for Environment José Herrera, in a short statement, appealed to the authorities, particularly the police, “to take all necessary action to ensure that protected species are no longer a victim of some irresponsible people, who with their behaviour, are harmful to responsible hunters.”
Photo: Screenshot of press conference