[WATCH] Trapper caught red-handed threatens hiking group in Gozo

BirdLife footage shows trapper threatening to hurl a stone at a group of hikers who had stumbled upon his illegal trapping site in Munxar 

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
21 March 2017, 3:00pm
The trapper threatened to throw a rock at the group of young hikers. Photo: BirdLife Malta
The trapper threatened to throw a rock at the group of young hikers. Photo: BirdLife Malta
 

BirdLife Malta has published a video showing a trapper covering his face and threatening to hurl a stone at a group of young hikers in Gozo.

BirdLife said that the young hikers, hailing from its own youth group Falko, had stumbled upon the trapper operating an illegally active finch trapping site while taking a hike at Snap Cliffs, a Natura 2000 site in Munxar.

The footage has been passed on to the police for investigation.

“Despite trapping at this time of year being illegal, during the past days various active illegal trapping sites were observed around the Maltese Islands by BirdLife Malta and the general public,” BirdLife said. “Particularly over the weekend, several members of the public who were out enjoying the countryside reported coming across these sites which were all reported to the police.”  

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter on Monday warned that the Maltese coastline is littered with hundreds of illegal clap-nets and that it will refer Malta to the European Commission for the “de facto tolerance” of illegal trapping.

An aerial survey conducted by the environmental NGO last week revealed a record number of 133 active trapping sites along the coast on one single morning. These included 20 illegal sites at Dingli Cliffs being operated directly under the eyes of the tourists visiting the area, as well as sites in the middle of wheat fields, on the roof of Fort Ricasoli in Kalkara, and several in Gozo.  

CABS press officer Officer Axel Hirschfeld said the situation proved that Malta is not complying with its claimed "zero tolerance" towards trapping illegalities and that police are not able to do their job due to a huge lack of resources.

“Last week we received information that the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) only have one patrol on duty. It is hard to believe that this is just a planning error. It seems likely that the government is actively preventing police action upon trappers by limiting police resources to nearly zero during peak finch migration.

“The government will have to deal with the repercussions of deliberately protecting poachers from prosecution, which is in defiance of the EU's Birds Directive.”

The European Commission has already referred Malta to the European Court of Justice for opening a finch trapping season in autumn. In a response to the EC’s accusations, the Wild Birds Regulation Unit has claimed that “a strict supervisory and enforcement regime that comprises an elaborate  system of legal and  regulatory controls and deterrents against violations, as well as a robust field enforcement system on the ground, have been put into place”.