‘Enough is enough’: Birdlife call for immediate suspension of hunting season

Three protected birds shot in less than 24 hours as number of illegally shot protected birds during autumn hunting season soars to 23

A protected Grey Heron [pictured] was shot and seen landing on a cliff edge on Dwejra, Gozo
A protected Grey Heron [pictured] was shot and seen landing on a cliff edge on Dwejra, Gozo

The shooting of more protected birds cannot go on unabated and the government must immediately suspend the autumn hunting season, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said, moments after three more protected birds were shot in less than 24 hours.

“This cannot go on, enough is enough, the government must take action immediately [and suspend the hunting season,” Sultana insisted.

In a statement issued on Sunday after the shooting of three more protected birds on Saturday, BirdLife Malta said the recent spike in illegal shooting was indicative of an ineffective enforcement.

“With so many protected birds known to have been shot down up to yesterday, this is now one of the worst autumn hunting seasons in recent past years. It is shameful that the government remains a coward and does not find the courage to take any action,” BirdLife Malta said.

BirdLife said on Saturday, a protected suffered a broken wing after being shot in Dwejra and was seen landing on a cliff edge in Dwejra. Moments later, BirdLife said, one of its members and Raptor Camp volunteers witnessed the shooting of a protected Northern Wheateater in Delimara.

The fallen bird was picked up by a hunter before it was stashed away. Police were later retrieved the bird and were given footage of the illegal shooting.

The recent killings brings the number of protected birds shot in two weeks up to 23.

Moreover, the shootings at Dwejra and Delimara brought the total number of shot protected birds in one day up to three after the illegal shooting of a protected Honey Buzzard in Fawwara.

The number of birds shot down unobserved is likely to be a multiple of the number of incidents actually observed or filmed.

BirdLife’s call for the government to suspend the autumn hunting season during the migration of protected birds has been endorsed by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter and the United Nations Environment Programme. However, their calls have fallen deaf ears, with the government passing the buck to the Ornis Committee, the government’s advisory body in hunting.

Hunters’ lobby FKNK has urged the government to resist calls for the suspension of the autumn hunting season, claiming that the ban would be a “collective punishment” and “illegal”. The hunting lobby also insisted that notwithstanding the shooting of more than 20 protected birds during the autumn hunting season, Malta’s “law-abiding” hunters and trappers remained the “best disciplined” in the European Union.

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