Update – Hunters continue to shoot protected Turtle Doves – CABS
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Update below with reaction from KSU – The Committee Against Bird Slaughter, in a statement has said that, “irresponsible hunters continue to shoot at protected Turtle Doves.”
CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said that, “hunters have been observed shooting from within trees, sitting inside tower hides, throwing rocks into trees and using wires with empty cans to disturb Turtle Doves from trees.”
“This is what hunters do if they want to shoot Turtle Doves whereas hunting Quail requires a completely different method (drive hunt), dogs and an open environment,” she added.
According to Burrows, “as soon as the first flocks of migrating Turtle Doves arrived last week the number of gunshots fired in areas suitable for Turtle Dove skyrocketed.”
CABS activists said that last Thursday they observed hunters “shooting down several Turtle Doves in the Fawwarra area at around 7am.”
“The police were informed and searched the area but were not able to apprehend anyone. Shots at Turtle Doves were also recorded on the Marfa Ridge, Ghar Lapsi and Gharghur last week,” CABS said.
This morning a CABS team stationed in L-Ahrax “observed and filmed a hunter killing and collecting a Turtle Dove which fell into a small pine forest.”
CABS said that, “the footage, which clearly shows the man´s face and the protected bird in his hand, was passed on to the police who are investigating the case.”
“We urge the authorities to do their utmost to identify this irresponsible hunter and bring him to court,” Fiona Burrows stated.
Meanwhile, in a press conference today, BirdLife Malta President Darryl Grima, CEO Mark Sultana and Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara, said that, “this year’s season was a smokescreen for hunters to go out and shoot on anything that flies, with rampant killing of protected birds all across Malta and Gozo.”
According to BirdLife Malta, “thousands of Turtle Doves are believed to have been shot despite the season was supposedly open only for Quail.”
The NGO stated that, “this happened because this year’s spring hunting season dates were moved purposely to coincide with the peak migration of this protected bird.”
Up till today, the NGO said that BirdLife Malta and the police had retrieved 10 illegally shot protected birds.
Another injured bird was received during the press conference, and it was shown to the journalists present at BirdLife Malta’s offices before being taken to the vet who later on confirmed it was also shot.
This raises the total of illegally shot protected birds retrieved to 11. “These are only a small percentage of the birds shot since many other species were seen either being targeted or actually carrying clear signs of gunshot injuries,” said BirdLife Malta.
BirdLife Malta remarked that, “according to data which the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) has – and despite the thousands of shots heard all over the country in the past two weeks – the number of Quails declared shot were a mere 229.”
KSU reaction – denies allegations of thousands of shots being heard.
Kaccaturi San Ubertu, in a statement this evening said that it “emphatically denies allegations by anti-hunting entities that thousands of shot have been heard.”
It added that its members, who are “in 30 different locations around the islands conducting their annual Spring Migration Observation Survey, record a very different reality.”
“The survey will be forwarded the European Commission as a true representation of fact regarding migration and the availability of quail throughout this spring hunting season,” said KSU.
According to the KSU, “observations so far point to a very poor season with very few birds sighted and even less caught.”
KSU went on to say that it supports “sustainable hunting and strict observance of hunting regulations and practices a policy of zero tolerance, and collaborates with Enforcement Units to eradicate abuse.”
KSU concluded by pointing out that it, “condemns all the orchestrated bad propaganda by anti hunters aimed at tarnishing law abiding hunters no less than law breaking by any hunter.”