There were 12,913 hunting licenses issued in 2018 according to a parliamentary question answered by Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia, giving some indication of the hunting lobby’s political power.
The figure is actually 10 less when compared to 2017. However, there were roughly 60 less new applicants for licenses in 2018 (165).
The licenses include the hunting of birds (from both land and sea) and the hunting of rabbit. The Wild Birds Regulation Unit issues the licenses, however a person can only get a permit if they form part of a hunting lobby.
It should be noted that while a person can hold more than one license, it is likely that this is generally not the case.
The hunting lobby is considered one of the most influential political groups in Malta regularly demanding the attention of both local and European representatives.
A recent exercise carried out by The Malta Independent revealed that every single MEP candidate of the two major political parties (except Michael Briguglio) would defend spring hunting at EU level if elected.
Their position was primarily out of respect for the 2015 Referendum on the issue, which passed by a narrow margin of just over 1,000 votes.
However, with an overwhelming number of people still against the practice (124,214 people as according to the reference) questions must inevitably be asked whether any of the main party candidates are representing the view of all Maltese people.
So far, AD and PD candidates said they were against spring hunting, leaving little chance for an anti-hunting candidate to reach the mainstream.
The issue surrounding the illegal hunting reared its head once again in the weeks before, during and after the spring season. While the absolute majority of hunters seem more than happy to obey the admittedly strict regulations placed upon them, a few often-dubbed “cowboys” still feel they are above the law.
The number of protected birds shot in 2019 reached 38 after four protected birds were shot down over the weekend, despite it being during the closed season.
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