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BirdLife Malta urges government, police to prioritise law enforcement during autumn hunting season

With this year’s autumn hunting season opening today, BirdLife Malta appealed for environmental law to be enforced

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
1 September 2016, 9:49am
BirdLife Malta will be organising its annual raptor camp to monitor illegal hunting and ensure that the birds are protected
BirdLife Malta will be organising its annual raptor camp to monitor illegal hunting and ensure that the birds are protected
BirdLife Malta reiterated its annual appeal for people to abide by the laws that are enacted to protect birds in Malta and to report any illegality which may occur during the autumn hunting season which opens today, as the government formally announced through the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU).

“Every autumn, many migrating birds of prey crossing the Mediterranean sea en route to Africa seek shelter on the Maltese Islands. The laws allow for the killing of 40 species of birds during five whole months of autumn, 12 of which also from the sea. The rest of the species are protected both by local and international law and BirdLife Malta expects everyone to adhere to these regulations,” the NGO said.

Despite outlining the law, BirdLife Malta remained critical of the fact that during the peak migration of raptors, hunting is allowed until 7:00pm. “There was a time when this curfew was more effective to safeguard these birds since hunting was not allowed after 3:00pm.”

BirdLife Malta also commented on the bag limit and limited hunting season of turtle doves, which according to them, has recently been certified as being in a vulnerable status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The NGO expressed pleasure at the acknowledgement of this issue, but said that it believes the measures will not be effective. “Turtle doves hardly migrate after September with the peaks being in the first two weeks of September. The imposed bag limit of 7,000 turtle doves that can be killed, remains very doubtful on being controlled,” it said.

“Just like all the other bird limits be it of hunting or trapping, BirdLife Malta remains very skeptical on how much is truthfully reported and declared. Having said that, we look forward to work closely with WBRU and other stakeholders in Europe to push for proper conservation measures across Europe to save the turtle dove from continuing to decline,” it added.

BirdLife Malta also said that Malta had the highest density of hunters in the European Union, with around 10,000 hunters. “In view of this we urge the authorities, in particular the Malta Police Force and the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit to put the protection of birds and their habitats

on top in their agenda,” it said, adding that the organisation expects the ALE to take immediate necessary actions against those who are caught breaking regulations.

“We will remain willing to assist and collaborate with enforcement officers as we have always done. To this effect, BirdLife Malta will once again be organising its annual raptor camp to monitor illegal hunting and ensure that the birds that are traditionally targeted in Malta are protected.”

BirdLife Malta urged for the public’s engagement to ensure that environmental law enforcement remains a priority during this year’s autumn hunting season. “While hoping that illegalities continue to decrease, we urge anyone witnessing illegal hunting to immediately report the case to the police and to BirdLife Malta in order for immediate action to be taken.”

Illegalities and cases of injured birds can be reported to BirdLife Malta by callling 2134 7645/6 during office hours or our hotline 7925 5697 (strictly only for wildlife crime emergencies) during evenings and weekends. Other reports can be sent by email to [email protected] or by leaving us a Facebook message on www.facebook.com/birdlifemalta.

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