BirdLife decries government inaction as two more protected birds gunned down

BirdLife says Joseph Muscat's 'zero tolerance' pledge to illegal action was a gimmick after a roller and black-winged stilt are shot down 

The black-winged stilt was diagnosed as suffering from a broken rib and chest wound. Its beak was also blasted.
The black-winged stilt was diagnosed as suffering from a broken rib and chest wound. Its beak was also blasted.
The roller was shot four times - in its head, chest and wings
The roller was shot four times - in its head, chest and wings

BirdLife Malta collected two protected birds – a roller and a black-winged stilt – that were shot down in the last few days of the spring hunting season that ended today.

BirdLife chief executive Mark Sultana hit out at the government for turning a blind eye to illegalities and said that the Prime Minister’s decision to close last year’s season was a mere “gimmick”.

BirdLife collected the dead roller on Friday from a person who found it while walking in a field in Xaghra, Gozo. The black-winged stilt was retrieved later that same day from St Thomas Bay in Marsascala, suffering from shotgun injuries.

“These two colourful and charismatic birds were targeted to end up as trophies in hunters’ collections,” Sultana said in a statement. “It is clear that the zero tolerance attitude seen last year from government was only gimmick.

“With the fear of having an early closure of the season dwindling away, the illegalities increased. This proves how much the problem of illegal hunting in Malta is far from solved and that premature comments of a positive nature normally end being abused of.”

Sultana warned that hunting illegalities will go rampant the moment pressure is weakened, and that is fear of closure of the season – rather than goodwill – that is keeping illegalities under check.

“The moment the fear factor is removed, we will go back to illegal killing,” he said.     

BirdLife collected the dead roller on Friday from a person who found it while walking in a field in Xaghra, Gozo. The black-winged stilt was retrieved later that same day from St Thomas Bay in Marsascala, suffering from shotgun injuries.

The spring hunting season for turtle dove and quail was opened this season, despite the former bird being named as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. As a “conservation measure”, hunters were allowed to gun down a total of 5,000 turtle doves – down from previous years’ quotas of 11,000 birds.

“Apart from the fact that the spring hunting season is opened to hunt the turtle dove which status has been declared as vulnerable, it also serves as a smokescreen allowing protected birds to be shot at,” Sultana said. “There are no better reasons than these two points to declare an end to spring hunting seasons in our country once and for all.” 

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