A rare bird called the Peregrine Falcon was shot and injured in Għarb, Gozo, activist group Birdlife confirmed.
The Mediterranean bird, also known as the Maltese Falcon, went extinct in the 1980s due to illegal hunting but gradually made a comeback after breeding efforts on the islands’ coastlines.
The shot flacon was found by a family holidaying in the Gozitan village.
BirdLife flagged the changed laws of rabbit hunting in 2018, by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU), which “purposely aimed to allow hunters to roam everywhere across Malta and Gozo”.
“Prior to this change in legislation, rabbit hunting was only allowed on private land with the owner’s permission but now hunters can roam with a loaded shotgun wherever they want,” they explained.
“Hunters are using this smokescreen to go out hunting for birds during their breeding season and during the early migration and this was designed to practically extend the hunting season into the summer months too.”
Since the opening of rabbit hunting season on 1st June, the activists received reports of nine illegality shot protected birds and 113 bird causalities so far this year.
“It is sad to see such a majestic bird which is part of our natural heritage, being cut short of its life as a direct result of legislative and policy changes introduced to appease the hunting lobby. Coastal cliffs should not be hunting grounds for rabbit, and this species is protected at the highest levels in both Maltese and European laws,” Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta’s Head of Conservation said.