A Maltese hunters association has hit back at a leading anti-hunting group after it warned that 14 eagles were “believed” to have been shot over the weekend.
“Just because you don’t see a bird, doesn’t mean it was shot,” a Kaċċaturi San Ubertu (KSU) spokesperson told Lovin Malta. “Most of the nine Short-Toed Eagles were seen leaving from Salib tal-Għolja, and not from Buskett where Bird Life Malta was mainly situated, in the small hours of Sunday morning.”
KSU had members observe and monitor the areas following reports that the eagles had landed. However, contrary to reports by BirdLife Malta (BLM), KSU said they saw the birds in the Girgenti, Dingli area resuming their migratory journey in the small hours of Sunday.
In a statement, the KSU detailed what their members had reported seeing.
“Members of our NGO observed the flock coming in from the south west of the island. Some roosted in Buskett while others made their way to Girgenti, Dingli and other areas on the West coast of Malta. KSU also have reports, backed by video evidence, of four eagles roosting in the Grand Harbour areas,” the KSU said.
While the KSU said they saw nine of the birds leaving, they said the other six remained unaccounted for. However, they said that just because you don’t see a bird, you should “not presume what happened. You either know or you don’t.”
“The simple notion by BLM that the birds were shot at just because they continued their migration is unbelievable.”
“Evidently this is another ploy by BLM to play on people’s emotions and foment social hatred, to raise funds in the process.”
KSU said that while shots were reported to have been fired at Salib tal-Għolja Saturday night, with police and AFM on the scene, no evidence of any shot birds were found.
“KSU would like to remind BLM that it is peak autumn season at the moment, so the shots come as no surprise,” they said.
“Very clearly the video by BLM shows that the bird was not molested in anyway. What is unequivocally factual, is that after a thorough search, neither BLM nor the Law Enforcement Unit found any wounded or dead birds and no proof whatsoever that the birds have been shot at has been produced.”
Short-Toed Eagles are known to migrate in small flocks but disperse to roost in smaller numbers when they arrive on land, KSU said. They also thanked hunters for their “responsible behaviour” throughout the Autumn season.
“In contrast, KSU deplores the vile and fake news dispersed by BLM, and unfortunately, sensationally carried by most of the media, insinuating, that most of these magnificent birds (‘all but one’) were shot down, when in fact they continued on their migration,” they ended.