Despite illegalities, Malta’s hunters remain ‘best disciplined’ in EU, FKNK insists

Hunters’ lobby FKNK says suspending autumn hunting season would be “illegal” and says UN official’s warning to Malta was an insult and a serious reflection of intolerance

Despite the killing of more than 20 protected birds, Malta's hunters remain the
Despite the killing of more than 20 protected birds, Malta's hunters remain the "best discplined" in the EU, FKNK insisted.

Hunters’ lobby FKNK has called on the government to ignore calls to cancel the autumn hunting season, arguing that Malta’s “law-abiding” hunters and trappers remain the “best disciplined” in the European Union.

At least 20 protected birds have been shot in two weeks, the latest being a Honey Buzzard killed on Friday, with environmentalists warning that the number of birds show down unobserved is likely to be a multiple of the number of incidents actually observed or filmed.

BirdLife Malta, together with volunteers from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the United Nations Environment Programme, have repeatedly called on the government to suspend the hunting season until the migration of birds of prey is over, but so far, the government has refused, instead passing the buck to the Ornis Committee to recommend the closure of the hunting season.

But, despite the illegalities, the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) insisted that the suspension of the hunting season would be a “collective punishment” and “illegal”.

“Malta can boast of having some of the best disciplined and law-abiding hunters and trappers, and the least number of hunting-related infringements in the EU. These are facts and figures which no one can deny,” the hunters’ lobby said.

The FKNK’s comments were made in reaction to a strong-worded warning made by Dr Lewis Pugh, the United Nations Patron of the Sea and a leading international figure in international efforts to protect oceans and wildlife, who on Saturday called on the prime minister to immediately suspend the hunting season.

Pugh said the country’s continued tolerance of illegal hunting was incompatible with the decision to host Our Oceans Conference in Malta next year, arguing that “this is akin to Zimbabwe being invited to host a conference on democracy.”

However, Pugh’s comments, which are supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, were met by disdain by FKNK.

Labelling Dr Pugh as “Birdlife Malta’s parrot,” the FKNK insisted that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should “strongly counter” the letter, and claimed that the warning was an “insult” and a “serious reflection of intolerance and negative attitude.”

“The insult by a UN patron goes a long way to understand why the world is facing the turmoil that exists globally and that is continuously negatively affecting human lives. The insults in this UN's supporter letter to Malta's Prime Minister go beyond any endeavour to enter into reasonable discussions.  It is a serious reflection of intolerance and negative attitude, surely not consistent with the objectives of the UN,” the FKNK said.

The hunting organisation accused Pugh of “parroting Birdlife’s lies and fallacies [sic]” after he called on the prime minister to suspend the autumn hunting season.

The FKNK also said that Pugh’s warnings hint at damaging Malta’s tourism industry, and claimed that similar illegalities were being carried out in many African countries where millions of birds which flew over Malta unharmed, ended up killed.

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