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Updated | ‘Government can no longer turn a blind eye’ as more protected birds are killed

CABS film poachers killing protected Honey Buzzards • Stuffed protected birds and illegal cage traps found in Tal-Virtu and Hal Far • Tally of illegally shot birds rises to 15 in five days

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
15 September 2016, 11:44am
Last updated on 15 September 2016, 1:03pm
CABS activists discovered a freshly killed Cuckoo close to the Palazzo Tal Virtu as well as three stuffed protected birds which were disposed in an old ditch near Hal-Far. The trophies include a Purple Heron, a Roller, a Short Eared Owl and a Golden Oriole
CABS activists discovered a freshly killed Cuckoo close to the Palazzo Tal Virtu as well as three stuffed protected birds which were disposed in an old ditch near Hal-Far. The trophies include a Purple Heron, a Roller, a Short Eared Owl and a Golden Oriole
Volunteers of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have filmed numerous cases of poaching in the Buskett area and in Hal Far, including four cases of illegal shooting of protected birds, two cases of illegal trapping as well as the discovery of four dead protected birds.

The repeated incidents have prompted BirdLife Malta to call on the Prime Minister to suspend the autumn hunting season, urging the government to act fast before more birds are killed.

The tally of illegally shot birds has now risen to over fifteen in the span of five days. This clearly shows that fines and enforcement are not enough to protect these birds.

“Hunters find it easier to kill protected birds during an open season and that by closing it he will help enforcement efforts to be more effective. We will keep on demanding a closure of the season till the October 15 when the migration of birds of prey slows down in order to make it more difficult for illegal hunting to take place,” BirdLife Malta said in a statement.

On Wednesday evening a CABS team escorted a flock of Honey Buzzards flying towards the roost in Buskett Gardens. At 7:21pm a poacher in the Tal-Virtu area shot down two of the birds. One incident was recorded on video. The police were called and arrived at around 8pm.

After watching the video the officers searched the area but were not able to make an arrest.

“After the incident we decided to monitor this area more closely. On Thursday morning we went there with two teams and filmed another Honey Buzzard being killed at around 6:45 am,” CABS spokesperson Axel Hirschfeld said.

The police needed about an hour to arrive and began searching the area at around 8:30am. The outcome of the search is not known yet.

CABS added that it has provided the police with video footage which shows the face of a person hunting the area where the bird fell down.

CABS also said that is has reported two large illegal cage trap installations to the police
CABS also said that is has reported two large illegal cage trap installations to the police
Yesterday afternoon CABS activists also discovered a freshly killed Cuckoo close to the Palazzo Tal Virtu as well as three stuffed protected birds which were disposed in an old ditch near Hal Far.

The trophies include a Purple Heron, a Roller, a Short Eared Owl and a Golden Oriole – species which are strictly protected on Malta and may not be shot. All four birds were collected by the police.

Also at Hal Far a Grey Heron with severe shotgun injuries on wings and legs was filmed by the birdwatchers.

CABS said that it reported two large illegal cage trap installations to the police. The traps were found in the valley between Buskett and Tal Virtu and contained 13 live Turtle Doves, six Starlings and nine protected songbirds. A patrol of the Administrative Law Enforcement (A.L.E.) inspected the site and initiated legal proceedings against the owner.

Despite the live birds in the traps serving as decoys and being regarded as corpus delicti the police decided not to release them.

“The autumn hunting season is only two weeks old and we already have seen more illegalities than during the whole spring hunting season. These cases with the addition of the recent stork shootings shows that the situation remains of great concern,” Hirschfeld said. “We expect the police to do their utmost to convict the persons involved in these environmental crimes.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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