With the spring hunting season around the corner, BirdLife Malta and The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have once again appealed to the government to refrain from opening the season due to a lack of policing leading to rampant illegal poaching and hunting.
Birdlife Malta uploaded footage earlier today of seven protected birds who fell victim to illegal hunting last weekend – during the closed season.
Four Marsh Harriers (Bagħdan Aħmar) and Three Common Kestrels (Spanjulett).
This raises the total of known illegally shot protected birds during the closed season in 2020 to 14.
“The opening of a hunting season now would be the most irresponsible act by Prime Minister Robert Abela,” said Birdlife Malta in a press release.
“Whilst the general public is being asked to stay at home in view of the global threat posed by the COVID-19 virus – Cabinet has requested an urgent meeting of the ORNIS Committee to rubber stamp a spring hunting season.”
“Apart from being highly irresponsible in the present delicate situation, the opening of such a season will be an open cheque for hunters and trappers to continue flouting the law at a moment when police and security forces are already overstretched with other much more important duties. This is already happening, with rampant illegal hunting and trapping taking place in the countryside.”
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter also joined Birdlife’s call to refrain from opening a spring hunting season this year after its members documented and reported 18 cases of illegal trapping and two cases of hunting since the 9th of March.
“Illegal bird trapping is rampant and it’s obvious that the poachers know that the police have other priorities now. Opening the hunting season would only worsen this situation“, said CABS Crime Officer Fiona Burrows.
CABS stated that hunting-related illegalities were a result of people taking advantage of reduced police resources amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the police are not able to guarantee strict supervision, we fear a sharp increase in hunting-related illegalities such as shooting protected species or using forbidden electronic lures,” said Burrows.
CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld also criticised the hunting lobby FKNK for their recent and repeated calls on the government to lift the spring hunting ban for turtle doves.
“This bird is on the way to extinction. By requesting a spring hunting season for it FKNK shows once again that they spit on responsible hunting and conservation and instead are solely focused on facilitating maximum shooting pleasure for their members“, he said.