Birdlife Malta has decried the government’s responsibility in the “massacre” of this year’s spring hunting season, where 97 illegalities were recorded, bringing the number of shot protected birds up to 41.
“The deliberate choice of dates by the government to coincide with peak Turtle Dove migration was augmented by the increase in hunting licences, and the season was characterised by the lowest ever enforcement levels in past years,” the NGO said in a statement.
“Clear evidence of the wrong choice of dates for this year’s smokescreen hunting season was the fact that half of the illegal hunting casualties recovered during the season were protected Turtle Doves,” Birdlife continued.
BirdLife Malta will present its findings to the European Commission, with a request that the derogation is revisited, given the government utilised this season to allow the hunting of the red-listed Turtle Dove.
Spring hunting, despite the referendum in 2015, remains a hot issue as a few hunters continue to commit illegalities throughout the season. The season is open for two to three weeks every year, with an uncontested autumn season being open for five months of the year.