Hunting made possible in nine out of twelve months, Birdlife says

With new amendments extending the wild rabbit hunting season, Birdlife said that it was expecting further illegalities especially concerning protected birds

Wild rabbit can now be hunted between June and August
Wild rabbit can now be hunted between June and August

Amendments to the Wild Rabbit hunting laws announced a few days ago included the possibility for hunters to hunt in nine out of 12 months.

Birdlife Malta argued that these amendments would grant hunters an additional three months of rabbit hunting between June and August.

The amendments to the Environment Protection Act's Protection Act Protection of Wild Rabbit Regulations were announced by Environment Minister José Herrera and Animal Rights Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri.

Birdlife said that the opening up of huntable areas and use of dogs in all areas during the breeding season of most birds was a cause of disturbance. Moreover, poachers were being given a free roam.

With the new rules in place, where previously rabbit hunting license owners could only practice with the permission of land owners, rabbit hunting was now being allowed in all areas where bird hunting was allowed. The restriction to train dogs with the use of leashes was also removed in the new amendments.

Birdlife said that in August of last year, a flock of 18 white storks were wiped out over a week during the open season for rabbits.

A flock of 18 white storks were wiped out in August 2018
A flock of 18 white storks were wiped out in August 2018

It said this announcement followed hot on the heels of a spring hunting season where enforcement on the ground was at its lowest levels for the past years in Malta.

Birdlife CEO Mark Sultana said Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri continued listening only to the hunting lobby’s request to relax laws, yet did not take heed of the Ornis Committee’s advice to set up a wildlife crime unit.

“Now more than ever, with such lax legislation, the need and onus for enforcement is crucial to ensure that Malta’s environmental laws are respected by one and all,” Mr Sultana said.