CABS reports widespread illegal night trapping, use of illegal bird callers

NGO says government's quota system 'reduced to absurdity'

A caged golden plover acts as a lure to other birds
A caged golden plover acts as a lure to other birds

At the start of the Golden Plover migration the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has urged the government to stop trapping of Golden Plovers as widespread illegal night trapping makes defeats the purpose the real-time monitoring and quota system introduced by the authorities to ensure that only a limited number of birds is caught.

"Since the season started we have conducted night surveys which proved that the majority of trapping sites registred for plovers are manned and active during the night when the plovers migrate and enforcement is at zero", CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said.

"As trapping is illegal two hours after sunset and two hours before sunrise, birds trapped during these illegal periods will not be reported by the trappers thus making it impossible for the government to say when the quota is reached", he added.

Trappers are obliged to report every bird caught by SMS, so that the season's quota is monitored in real-time and terminated if the overall seasonal quota for Golden Plovers is reached before the end of the season.

CABS also criticised the widespread use of "hundreds" of forbidden bird callers for the trapping of Golden Plovers.

"There are only few places on Malta and Gozo where these devices cannot be heard calling night and day. Everybody knows that they are illegal and everybody hears them, however it is easy for them to be switched off when Police are nearby making them impossible to locate", Hirschfeld said.

CABS confirmed that it has received numerous phone calls from members of the public who feel disturbed as some of the machines are audible even inside houses in Bugibba, Rabat, Mellieha, Siggiewi, Birzebugga and Manikata.

"Despite the WBRU declaration that there should be at least 2 ALE officers/marshals on duty to monitor the situation outside the permitted hours the Police General Headquarters was unable to forward calls to the ALE. Police HQ repeatedly informed us that there were no ALE officers on duty at night", CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows reports.

The CABS teams were finally forwarded to the district police, who dismantled one illegal bird caller used for night trapping inside the Majistral nature and history park and in one case managed to apprehend a trapper red-handed last Wednesday morning, close to San Martin.

"In the overwhelming majority of cases the bird trappers switched off their callers and ran off in the dark when they saw the police car arriving. If the government is not able to bring the situation under control - as it is the case at the moment - the season must be terminated with immediate effect", Burrows added.

On its YouTube channel and on Facebook CABS have published a video documenting the massive illegal use of electronic bird callers for hunting and plover trapping in the last months. The footage was taken from public roads which, according to CABS, proves the prevalence of this illegality in the countryside.

 

The video, which will also be sent to the European Commission, also shows other illegalities as the burning of protected garrigue to create trapping sites, the use of an automatic shotgun and verbal abuse towards a CABS team.

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