Hunting lobbies in feud over trapping project for 12 ‘privileged’ members

Trapping project for 12 members proposed by St Hubert Hunters meets with opposition from FKNK

Malta’s hunting lobby FKNK has protested against an attempt by the smaller lobby group St Hubert Hunters (KSU) to obtain permits for 12 bird trappers for a research project. 

The FKNK said the KSU’s project is led by Dr Natalino Fenech, the one-time PBS head of news, which project requires 12 trappers for its research purposes. 

But the lobby claims it had long resisted the project because it benefits just 12 “privileged” trappers chosen by Fenech and the KSU. 

The FKNK said the project also has the backing of the Wild Birds Regulations Unit (WBRU), and will be presented to the Ornis Committee, which issues recommendations to the environment minister on matters of hunting and trapping. 

“FKNK sees this project as nothing but unacceptable discrimination. Either everyone is allowed to trap birds, or nobody at all!” FKNK president Joe Perici Calascione said. 
Malta is banned from trapping birds by EU law and its power to derogate from the ban has been severely curtailed by the European Commission, despite previous attempts to skirt around the prohibition. 

However, the FKNK’s proposals to the Ornis Committee for this year’s spring season also include a “research project” for the shooting of turtle dove and quail, despite the EU’s ban on spring hunting and Malta’s repeated breach of conditions when derogating from the ban. 

The FKNK wants a quail season from 10-30 April, and turtle dove from 17-30 April, with national bag limits of 5,000 quails and 3,500 turtle doves. 

The FKNK wants the government to lift the ban on spring hunting, insisting Malta’s turtle dove spring harvest has, over a considerable number of recent years, “had a nil effect impact on the European populations of turtle doves in Malta's reference population countries.” 

The FKNK said the moratorium on turtle dove spring hunting in force since 2017 was conditioned to be lifted once “the sustainability of Malta's tradition can be objectively and scientifically ascertained.” 

The lobby also wants to proceed with a captive-breeding project for turtle dove at the government Għammieri farms. “These birds have successfully bred and fledged several offspring, from which a good number are released (after being fitted with split-rings).  Regrettably, due to the COVID-19 situation this event could not be undertaken in 2020, which would have marked the fourth year in succession of similar releases.” 

The FKNK also wants a trapping season for turtle doves from 17 to 30 April 2021 with a 3,500 bag limit for both hunted and live-captured turtle doves, for the collection of wild species to the FKNK captive-breeding projects.