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Opening Trapping Season Risks Landing Malta In European Courts Once Again, Birdlife Warns

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Malta risks landing itself in the European Courts once again after the trapping seasons for two birds opened last Sunday, Birdlife Malta has warned.

This season, the trapping of plover (pluviera) and song thrush (malvizz) will be permitted, despite finch trapping, a controversial hunting practice declared illegal by the EU courts, being banned.

The trapping for both the plover and song thrush, Birdlife Malta said, still falls under the infringement proceedings initiated by the European Commission in 2011.

Malta’s has undergone some legislative changes to squeeze through special permission to trap the birds. However, Birdlife has claimed that the initial changes to trapping laws that were presented to Malta’s Ornis Committee were eventually withdrawn.

“Clearly implying that the Government bowed to political pressure from the trapping lobby,”  the NGO said in a statement.

Allowing the trapping for plover and song thrush, NGOs also argue, makes it easier to catch other protected birds illegally, namely the finch that was the critical issue for the EU’s first case.

In findings presented in May 2019, Birdlife surveys found that 82.8% of trapping sites were targeting finches or other species not permitted by the derogation. 57.5% of surveyed trapping sites found to be active were also operating illegally in areas unauthorised by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU).

“Overall, the season has not seen any kind of reduction in trapping effort; rather this was increased.”

“Instead of ensuring stricter control, the measures enacted this year are only targeted to allow more trapping. Various issues remain unaddressed, including the indiscriminate use of bird callers, and the insufficient coverage by police on Gozo and Malta to execute spot checks.”

“A recommendation for the setting up of a Wildlife Crime Unit filed with the Hon. Clint Camilleri remains unacted upon,” Birdlife said.

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