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Hunting: CABS film another buzzard gunned down, 50 illegal bird callers found

At least five hunters were seen hunting in the Gebel Ciantar where the bird fell down. Police arrived 45 minutes after CABS alerted headquarters.

Matthew Vella
24 September 2016, 3:11pm
An adult Honey Buzzard photographed at Gharghur on 23 September (Photo by Tim Micallef)
An adult Honey Buzzard photographed at Gharghur on 23 September (Photo by Tim Micallef)
Despite a public outcry against the shooting of more than 20 protected birds last week, the illegal killing in Malta’s autumn hunting season has continued: on Saturday morning volunteers from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) filmed a hunter shooting down a protected Honey Buzzard on the Gebel Ciantar plateau at 7:29am.

The bird was part of a group of buzzards which had roosted in Buskett Gardens and was shot down seconds before it was about to reach the sea at Ghar Lapsi.

At least five hunters were seen hunting in the area where the bird fell down. Instead of helping to catch the poacher all of them either continued hunting or left the area before the police arrived, 45 minutes after CABS alerted the headquarters.

Officers of the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) searched the area but were not able to find either the shot bird or to identify the poacher.

“Apart from the high number of illegalities observed since the start of the season the police does not seem to have an effective approach for how to bring the situation under control,” CABS Operations Officer Axel Hirschfeld said.

“The main problem is the poor response time which provides the criminals with enough time to hide all evidence and sit at the breakfast table before the police even arrives at the crime scene.”

CABS reiterated its call for the government to set up a professional wildlife crime unit which is able to guarantee the safety of protected birds roosting on Malta. “Until such a unit has been set up, hunting should be banned during the period of raptor migration,” CABS stated.

CABS endorsed Birdlife Malta and the United Nations Environmental Programme who both have already called on the Prime Minister to close the season as too many illegalities were observed.

It also stressed that the number of birds shot down unobserved is likely to be a multiple of the number of incidents actually observed or filmed.

CABS teams have discovered more than 50 illegal bird callers which have been installed in the countryside by hunters to maximise their quarry.

“We have provided the police with a digital map which contains the locations of the machines and proposed that they should be removed immediately,” CABS staff member Fiona Burrows said. The artificial lures imitated the courtship song of Quails, ducks, Redshank and protected Dotterels.

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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