Police officer accompanied poacher on illegal hunting trip

Several birds are still being shot at in the Maltese countryside although the hunting season is closed, environmental NGO CABS warns 

Tim Diacono
22 April 2017, 4:54pm
The poacher and his police officer accomplice on the watch. Photo: CABS
The poacher and his police officer accomplice on the watch. Photo: CABS
A police constable has been caught breaking Malta’s nature laws by going bird hunting during the closed season.

He was one of two people who activists from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) had filmed poaching at Wied Hanzir, near Hal-Farrug on Monday. CABS passed on to the footage to the Administrative Law Enforcement, who arrested one of the two men the following day.

In a shocking statement, CABS have now revealed that the second man who was caught on camera was actually a police officer himself.

“The policeman was sitting in the same hide with the poacher for at least an hour, spotting passing birds for him and – inter alia – helping him to adjust his binoculars,” CABS said. “We have more than one hour of footage which shows the two men together with at least one shotgun visible in the hands of the poacher who was later arrested. When the ALE arrived, both men scarpered and disappeared between the trees.”

The Bonn-based eNGO confirmed that it has filed a report against the policeman for aiding in a criminal offence he was duty bound to prevent.

“It´s bad enough that the ALE is kept on a short leash by the government which is not providing them with enough resources to control the poachers,” CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld said. “The fact that some of their own colleagues are involved in illegal hunting does not make it easier for them”.

Although the spring hunting season has been closed for over a week, CABS warned that the number of shots heard in the countryside has massively increased since turtle dove migration kicked in last Wednesday.

“Despite that the season is closed we have recorded much more shots per day than during the open season with a peak of more than 100 shots heard alone on Friday”, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.

She also said that on two separate incidents on Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning CABS activists managed to film two other poachers with their shotguns in Wied Dalam and Tal Virtu, adding that both have already been identified by the police and will be taken to court.

This morning a CABS team filmed a group of five poachers - two of them wearing masks - trapping Turtle Doves within a private compound below the Red Tower in Mellieha. Footage which shows the men removing trapped birds from a clap net has been passed on to the police and will be published on Youtube in the coming days.

A few days ago, Gozitan police were filmed shouting at and manhandling conservationists led by BBC naturalist Chris Packham as they were monitoring illegal trapping in Gozo.