Several birds of prey were shot at yesterday in what BirdLife Malta and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have described as rampant illegal hunting across various locations on Malta and Gozo.
In a statement, this afternoon the two environmental NGOs noted that south-westerly winds have favoured a peak in observed migration of birds of prey.
“Several birds were being shot illegally, with injured birds being recovered in the evening and members of the public inundating BirdLife Malta with calls reporting shooting at birds of prey as they sought places to roost for the night,” BirdLife said.
It said that illegal hunting was witnessed across several localities including Dingli, Victoria Lines, Siggiewi and Rabat in Malta, as well as Xlendi, Marsalforn, Ghasri and Gharb in Gozo.
Shooting extended into the evening and beyond the 7pm curfew currently in place to protect birds of prey, added the statement.
The targeted birds were mostly Honey-buzzards and Eurasian Hobby and Common Kestrel, it said.
The NGO noted that calls for assistance to the Environmental Protection Unit saw just a single police unit deployed to monitor the whole of Malta, while the Gozo police said that no field units were available.
“Three protected species were recovered just yesterday evening in the space of a few hours with a dead Hobby recovered by a CABS team from Xlendi, an injured Honey-buzzard found by a hiker in Miżieb, and an injured Common Kestrel from Santa Luċija,” BirdLife said.
“Two other highly-prized species that made a presence yesterday included a Black Stork and a Lesser Spotted Eagle, with the latter suspected missing after yesterday’s massacre. This follows another four illegally shot birds retrieved the day before, including a Marsh-harrier and a Night-heron recovered by police.”
Both BirdLife and CABS said it was unacceptable for there to be no police presence on the ground to ensure that such illegalities do not take place.
They called on taxidermy to be properly regulated in order to clamp down on such illegal hunting, which they said was driven by taxidermy collection.
They said they deplored the removal of a 3pm curfew in 2015 and the almost nonexistent enforcement on the ground which they said was allowing hunters to kill protected species during such times, undetected.
To add insult to injury, they said that the Wild Birds Regulation Unit was constantly being asked to by the Gozo Ministry to introduce more loopholes into hunting regulations.
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