15 illegal electronic quail callers dismantled

Joint CABS and police teams dismantle 15 illegal electronic bird callers in Malta, a day after a massive bird trap is uncovered in Gozo  

A CABS member crouches besides illegal bird callers uncovered across Malta
A CABS member crouches besides illegal bird callers uncovered across Malta

15 illegal electronic bird callers for quail were dismantled by two joint teams, composed of Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) members and Administrative Law Enforcement officials.  

Electronic bird callers are static installations which consist of a digital player, loudspeakers, large batteries and a digital timer which activates the devices from midnight until the early morning.

CABS said in a statement that some of the devices were found locked up in metal boxes or embedded in concrete to protect them from being stolen or confiscated by the police. However, with the help of bolt cutters and other special heavy tools all installations were removed or destroyed.

“The use of illegal bird callers for hunting and trapping is a widespread problem,” CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld warned. “In early autumn, most of the machines found in the countryside imitate the courtship song of quails – a bird that migrates during the night – so hunters can shoot more of them the next morning. Bird callers are also heavily used by bird trapper during the open trapping season for golden plovers from October to January.”

The EU Birds Directive considers hunting and trapping with the aid of pre-recorded bird calls as a method used for the mass killing of birds. They are illegal in Malta, but were decriminalized by the government’s Wild Birds Regulation Unit in 2013.

After the revised rules came into force, people caught with electronic bird callers no longer have to face court and are automatically fined a maximum €250.

“The result is a proliferation of bird callers in the countryside,” Hirschfeld said.

CABS’ raid comes a day after their team on Gozo uncovered a massive illegal cage trap at Tas-Salvatur Hill with 14 turtle doves and three protected collared doves inside.

The Gozo police were alerted and promptly deactivated the trap. However, CABS criticised them for failing to seize or release the birds, even though they were most likely wild.