[WATCH] Police to press charges against poacher using semi-automatic sniper rifle

Poacher using sniper rifle identified by police after CABS monitoring teams films man hunting off-season

The police will be pressing charges against a poacher filmed on Friday in Naxxar, hunting with a semi-automatic sports rifle during closed season.

The man was spotted and filmed by one of the Campaign Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) teams monitoring the countryside north of Naxxar at around 4pm on Friday.

“As the hunting season is closed at the moment our team immediately started filming the man from a distance. When they zoomed in they realised that the suspect was handling a large rifle which – at the first glance – looked similar to a military style sniper weapon,” CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said.

This was confirmed by the fact that the man also used a professional riflescope and had his weapon placed on an accuracy shooting bag. The footage shows the man scanning the countryside and subsequently aiming the weapon in the direction of the CABS team.

“We immediately called the police in Naxxar who attended within 25 minutes. Unfortunately the poacher had left the hide and drove off before the officers arrived, but we managed to film his face, his weapon and the registration plate of his car,” CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.

Based on the evidence provided by CABS, the police were able to confirm the identity of the man.

The perpetrator is expected to face charges for hunting during the closed season, carrying and using an automatic rifle not approved for hunting and using a forbidden rifle scope for hunting.

However, it is not known if the rifle used by the man in the video has been found and confiscated. CABS said that it has shown the footage to weapon experts who identified the rifle as a sport shooting automatic air rifle.

CABS said that for the time being its teams will continue to monitor the countryside in Malta and Gozo and report all cases of illegal hunting and bird trapping to the police. “The case from Friday shows that although the police has limited resources at the moment poachers still can and will be held responsible for their actions,” the Bonn-based conservation organisation said.