Bird trappers in Gozo caught poaching claimed they were scientists

Committee Against Bird Slaughter says 10 trappers falsely claimed to be part of the government finch study

Photo: CABS
Photo: CABS

Poachers who claimed to be scientists were apprehended by police in Gozo, Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said.

CABS said that criminal proceedings were expected to be filed against 10 men filmed and trapping finches without permits and site registrations.

Police officers responding to the reports seized nine sets of clap-nets, two cage traps (trabokki) and 42 live birds including Siskins, Hawfinches, Chaffinches, Linnets and Greenfinches. Illegal trapping sites were found in Żurrieq, Ħas-Saptan, Fomm ir-Riħ and Qala, Ta’ Ċenċ, Kerċem and Żebbuġ in Gozo.

When questioned by the police, 10 trappers “falsely” claimed to be participants of the government’s “dubious finch study”, CABS said, and that they even provided fake paperwork.

CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows claimed that the Gozo police did not have access to the Wild Birds Regulations Unit databank of sites where trapping was allowed, when a CABS team reported illegal trapping in Ta’ Ċenċ and Kerċem last week.

“As they had no official data at hand, the police officers refrained from confiscating the nets and allowed the poachers to continue trapping,” Burrows said.

Eventually the Wild Bird Regulation Unit confirmed that no permits had been issued for the sites. “We expect the police not only to charge these men for illegal trapping but also to inspect their aviaries and investigate them for misleading the police by falsifying documents,” Burrows said.

Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said that its members had observed rampant abuse and practically zero proactive enforcement. “The government is taking everybody for a ride when it claims that this is a scientific project while in fact, their only intention is to appease the trappers and help them to provide supplies for their aviaries and illegal collections,” he said.