Wild Bird Regulation Unit accused of taking credit for CABS’s work

eNGO CABS has accused WBRU head Sergei Golovkin of using its efforts to ‘whitewash the total failure of his authority to control illegal bird trapping in spring’

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
27 March 2017, 2:15pm
CABS' reports have led to the confiscation of at least 21 live decoys while the WBRU in its statement referred to only 12 birds that were seized
CABS' reports have led to the confiscation of at least 21 live decoys while the WBRU in its statement referred to only 12 birds that were seized
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has called out Maltese Wild Bird Regulation Unit head, Sergei Golovkin, for his supposed downplaying of illegal bird trapping in spring, accusing him of taking credit for CABS's efforts in order to “whitewash the total failure of his authority to control illegal bird trapping in spring.”

Last week, CABS announced it will refer Malta to the European Commission for the “de facto tolerance” of illegal trapping. The Germany-based environmental NGO had warned in a statement that trapping on the island has peaked this spring, reporting a record number of 133 active trapping sites along the coast on one single morning. CABS said that 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 other sites in Gozo.  

Writing on Sunday to the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) – an association of 51 environmental authorities in 36 countries – Golovkin confirmed that Maltese enforcement authorities had detected several illegal trapping incidents, but denied that it was of the scale reported by CABS.

“As a result of patrols and enforcement action taken over the past two weeks, officers from Administrative Law Enforcement Unit of the Malta Police, officers from Gozo district police, and officers of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit’s Specialist Enforcement Branch carried out daily surveillance and patrols, as a result of which a total of 17 active illegal trapping sites were located and dismantled, 12 live protected birds used as live decoys seized, and various trapping paraphernalia confiscated,” Golovkin wrote, adding that as a result, two individuals were apprehended and being prosecuted for illegal trapping of protected birds.

Golovkin argued that enforcement operations are being carried out “in a constant and routine manner,” and contradicted CABS claims of tolerance towards illegalities. “Enforcement is effective and produces the desired results,” he said.

In a statement, CABS said today that the seizures and apprehensions listed by the WBRU were the result of reports it had made to the police.

"All examples listed in the WBRU´s statement to demonstrate its ‘effectiveness’ are in fact cases which have been documented and reported by CABS. If you remove the cases reported by our teams from the list the government stands there empty-handed”, CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld said.

CABS also lamented 17 seizures or prosecutions, regardless of who reported them, is a minuscule number compared to cases reported by CABS to the police in the last three weeks.

“We have mapped a total of 133 illegal active sites on a single morning, 54 of which have already been reported to the authorities with map locations and photos of the nets installed by the poachers. The other 79 sites are being monitored by CABS teams to produce video evidence for the police to ensure prosecutions”, CABS wildlife crime officer Fiona Burrows said.

She added that CABS' reports have led to the confiscation of at least 21 live decoys while the WBRU in its statement referred to only 12 birds that were seized.