Hunters get Ornis to recommend spring hunting season, but decision hits legal snag

Wild Birds Regulation Unit says it wil have to recommend a decision to open the spring hunting season to the environment minister, as well as Gozo minister Clint Camilleri

The Ornis Committee has voted to open a spring hunting season for quail, despite having been informed by the Maltese police that are not enough resources to polices the season due to the strain prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All members of the consultative committee voted to recommend that Malta derogates from the EU’s ban on spring hunting, except for BirdLife Malta and the Environment and Resources Authority.

At law the Ornis recommendation can only be made to the environment minister, Aaron Farrugia, a declaration that confirms the legal position of BirdLife in a court case it filed against the change in ministerial portfolio.

BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said he specifically put the question to both the Ornis chairman and the WBRU head Richard Lia, as to whom the decision of the meeting will be addressed. Lia said that at law they will report to Aaron Farrugia, but since the WBRU operates under the Gozo ministry, he will also report to minister Clint Camilleri, himself a hunter.

Camilleri has in fact told Cabinet that they should consent to a hunting season for both quail and turtle dove.  

The controversial decision to recommend a spring hunting season will be a matter of concern because at law, a minimum of seven police officers or hunting monitors are required for every 1,000 hunters licensed for the spring season.

Additionally, the health authorities have said they are still carrying out their risk assessment as to whether allowing such an activity while the nation is under voluntary isolation and lockdown, would be advisable due to the coronavirus pandemic.