According to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), the Wild Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) has “refused to investigate” reports sent by the NGO on 177 trapping sites, which it said are “actively in use in areas banned for trapping.”
CABS said that it has provided the WBRU exact locations of the 177 suspicious sites on the 30th of October and offered to provide the photo evidence.
The NGO added that that even though trapping sites may only be licenced if they are located on agricultural land, it has “identified a total of 177 active installations built mostly on protected garrigue habitat.”
It went on to say that according to the legal framework for trapping (Subsidiary Legislation 549.93) “live capturing stations for birds shall not be located in protected areas or on sites of historical or ecological importance.”
And yet, the NGO argued, “some sites have also been found erected within or on top of historical fortifications such as Fort Ricasoli and Notre Dame Bastion.”
CABS remarked that after three weeks of silence, it sent a reminder to WBRU´s head Sergei Golovkin who replied this Tuesday saying: “I am not in a position to divert our scarce resources from priority work, to perform a detailed check and provide you with the summary requested. This is not necessary, since field inspections and spot checks are ongoing on a daily basis to ascertain compliance with applicable regulations.“
CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said, “it is unlikely that WBRU has no resources to follow up our reports. By refusing to take action the WBRU accepts that less poachers can be punished and at the same time avoids unearthing trapping sites which itself has licenced in areas where they should never be permitted.“
He added that CABS will now forward its reports to the Police and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) requesting an independent investigation.
“We cannot understand the government agency´s refusal, especially after last year a number of similar reports from CABS have lead to the confiscation of several sets of clap nets, live decoys as well as criminal proceedings against at least two trappers,” stated CABS.
CABS also pointed out that one of the poachers caught in November 2016 had to stand trial at the Valletta court last Wednesday. They said that “he was found guilty of trapping finches on an unregistered site near Pembroke and was sentenced to pay a fine of 2.000 Euros.”
The court also ordered the revocation of his hunting and trapping licence for life. According to CABS, “after court he then pursued, verbally abused and threatened the prosecutions’ key witness – a resident CABS staff member – on the way back to her car. She escaped unscathed and informed the police about the incident.”
Photos by CABS: A trapping site built on protected garrigue habitat and three active bird trapping sites on top of Notre Dame Ditch in Floriana.