21 protected birds seized by police as CABS film illegal bird trapping
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Teams of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), together with police officers, have already documented two cases of abuse that took place on the first morning of the official trapping season, the organisation said.
It said in a statement that a CABS team deployed in the Mtahleb area alerted the authorities after they spotted two protected Ring Ouzels (Malvizz tas-Sidra in Maltese) in an aviary close to a trapping site.
CABS said that Police were shown the cage and they freed and released the freshly caught birds. The landowner was cautioned and awaits further questioning.
Ring Ouzels are scarce visitors to the Maltese islands and are a red-listed species of conservation concern across much of its European range.
CABS members deployed near Qrendi, in a separate incident, were able to confirm that a trapping site registered for the capture of Song Thrush and Golden Plover was actually being used to catch protected finch species.
Footage released on youtube by CABS today “clearly shows a man trapping finches with a 20-metre clap net and caged live decoys placed around the installation,” it said.
The CABS members called the Police, who arrested the trapper red-handed in his hide. An illegal bird calling machine and 19 live birds, including Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Siskins and Greenfinches were seized, the organisation said.
According to CABS, the man arrested in Qrendi is a repeat offender who, they said, was previously caught trapping finches this spring at the very same location.
“Despite the poacher awaiting trial for illegal trapping the government issued this suspect with a licence and also registered the trapping site he used illegally in spring,” CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.
“Rewarding known wildlife criminals with licences for bird trapping is exactly the opposite of true, effective regulation and enforcement,” she added, “Given that two criminal cases were exposed on the very first day of the season we have deep concerns regarding the potential scale of trapping offences occurring in the Maltese countryside during this open season.”
CABS praised the police for their quick response and announced that its teams will continue to have a close eye on the situation until the end of the migration season.
It said that, “all cases will be reported to the Maltese authorities as well as to the European Commission.”