Underwater trap among illegal trapping sites reported to police

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter said it had discovered eight illegal sites through a major reconnaissance operation

The underwater trap was discovered through a reconnaissance operation conducted by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter
The underwater trap was discovered through a reconnaissance operation conducted by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter

An underwater trap placed in an artificial pond was among the discoveries made by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) during a major reconnaissance operation over the past two weeks.   

In order to catch wading birds such as sandpipers, the trapper built a “huge pond with an artificial sandbar in a field”.

“Caged birds as well as plastic decoys were put up around and served as additional lures to attract birds to the sandbar. The trapping mechanism consisted of a set of clap nets which were installed just below the water surface left and right of the sandbar,” the NGO said in a statement.

The net was dismantled and confiscated by the police, the NGO said, adding however that several live decoys had not. Neither did the police search the trapping hide or the property attached to the trapping site, CABS said.

The NGO added that it appeared as though it had become standard police procedure to only remove nets, instead of conducting proper site investigations and exhaust all possibilities to secure additional evidence.

The reconnaissance operation was aimed at uncovering sites used for the illegal rapping of protected sandpipers, greenshanks and other protected aquatic bird species, and consisted of aerial survey flights, as well as observers on the ground scanning the countryside for illegal nets and bird callers.

Eight active trapping sites, equipped with “huge nets” and plastic decoys were discovered and reported to the police.

In another case, the NGO said that the police were searching for a 40-year-old male individual who was filmed trapping birds in a walled property in the countryside near Dingli on 9 August.

The man was using a 30-meter-long clap net as well as a caged Greenshank and an illegal electronic bird caller.

“Electronic callers are very effective tools which help poachers to trap birds in large numbers. The disadvantage is that the emitted calls can also be heard by our teams thus leading them directly to illegal trapping sites”, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows explained.

She added that when CABS reported the Dingli case no police officers from the ALE – the police unit responsible to enforce the hunting law -  were immediately available as all were given other duties. CABS said it had taken the police more than an hour to respond to the report and raid the site.

The trapper, who was still actively trapping when the police arrived, ran off when he saw the officers approaching. Despite a search of the area he could not be found, CABS said.  

A poacher who was trapping birds in Birzebuggia was less fortunate. After CABS reported him to the police, officers of the ALE raided his trapping site and apprehended him.

Another five reports by CABS are being investigation by the police CABS said.

It further noted that it was unacceptable for ALE officers not to work night shifts, because this was fueling illegal trapping activity using bird callers during the night.

“Though the law says that night trapping is forbidden throughout the year, the government made the decision not to monitor the observance of this regulation,” CABS said.  

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