Six Honey Buzzards shot dead in series of shootings

Committee Against Bird Slaughter says shootings took place over the course of four days in a protected area near Malta International Airport

Over the last four days, three hunters broke regulations as well as hunting curfews by firing at the protected birds
Over the last four days, three hunters broke regulations as well as hunting curfews by firing at the protected birds

Six Honey Buzzards were killed in a series of shootings, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has revealed. 

In a statement, the NGO said that the “irresponsible” shootings took place over the course of four days in a protected area near Malta’s International Airport. 

Last Sunday, around 50 Honey Buzzards (kuccard) settled in Has Saptan valley, which borders the MIA runway. 

CABS said that despite hunters being aware of the strict hunting curfews, especially on Sundays and public holidays, over the last four days, three hunters broke regulations as well as hunting curfews by firing at the protected birds. 

The NGO said that 22 fired shots were heard on Sunday from five different locations and the police confiscated two of the man’s shotguns, after catching him in hiding with a silencer on his shotgun. 

Then, on 22 September, another four birds were shot down near Wied il-Qoton. Despite an intensive search by the police, neither the corpse of the dead birds nor the hunter was found. 

The NGO said that despite Monday’s afternoon curfew being in place, a further five shots were still heard when birds were flying. CABS said that a man carrying a shotgun fleeing the scene. A video of him carrying his weapon has been passed on to the police for further investigation. 

CABS’s wildlife crime officer Fiona Burrows said that another two birds were reportedly hit after leaving their roost in Birzebbugia and today, another hunter, who was arrested and had his shotgun seized by the police, was also filmed in the middle of ll-Balllut ta’ Marsaxlokk bird sanctuary, where all hunting is strictly prohibited. 

“As our teams can only monitor a small part of this maze of walls and blind sports, we are sure that our observations only represent a small fraction of the offences committed”, Burrows said. 

CABS is now calling for enforcement efforts and resources in the area of fields and valleys around the airport, even though the situation of these important raptor roosting sites has improved over the last years.

“In the night from Monday to Tuesday, more than 120 Marsh Harriers roosted around Buskett Gardens and despite many hunters were out. In the morning, all birds left unscathed,” CABS press officer,” Alex Hirschfeld said. 

CABS said it will continue to monitor the situation and take note of any illegal activity occurring during the peak of raptor migration since many birds are expected to be passing over our islands sometime this week.

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