Spring hunting season will allow hunters to shoot protected birds - BirdLife Malta

"Malta will have to again face the EU on this," the BirdLife Malta CEO said

The decision to open the spring hunting season for one bird species will allow hunters to shoot protected birds in spring, BirdLife Malta said.

The NGO said that the European Commission has warned government that the opening of the hunting season for the Common Quail (Summiena) coincides with the spring migration of the endangered European Turtle-dove (Gamiema). 

"Malta will have to again face the EU on this. BirdLife Malta will continue to keep the EU informed about what is happening in Malta and show that the opening of the spring hunting season is being carried out as an excuse for hunters to go out and shoot at anything that flies," BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said.

Sultana said that the carnet de chasse - which is an obligation for every licensed hunter to report hunted species - is not being set to the Wild Birds Regulation Unit. 

According to BirdLife Malta, the latest figures show that out of 10,675 licensed hunters in 2020, only 292 hunters, or 2.7% participated in the carnet de chasse.

In a scathing remark, the NGO said that the governmnet lacks the interest and resolve to enforce such laws, and is willing to "mollycoddle the hunting lobby purely for electoral reasons".

"This is in full disregard of the law and shows to what extent Robert Abela continues to handle the protection of nature in Malta."

The hunting advisory body, Ornis, recommended on Wednesday that the opening of a spring hunting season for quail take place between 10 and 30 April.

However, the FKNK’s proposal for a hunting season on the European Turtle-dove, running between 17 and 30 April, was voted down.