White storks shot at while roosting in Żabbar and Marsaskala, says BirdLife Malta

Environmentalists report that white storks were shot at while roosting in Żabbar and Marsaskala overnight

Photo: BirdLife Malta
Photo: BirdLife Malta

White storks were reportedly shot at while they were roosting overnight in Żabbar and Marsaskala, according to BirdLife Malta.

The storks had been sleeping in an area known as Wied iz-Ziju, which attracted a considerable number of people along the Marsascala bypass.

An Environmental Protection Unit and a team of volunteers monitored the birds, but left to investigate another roost site.

Photo: BirdLife Malta
Photo: BirdLife Malta

Shortly after, three shots were fired from two locations, causing the birds to disperse.

Police were called to the scene, while BirdLife Malta volunteers searched for suspects.

At 9am, only 33 storks were accounted for out of the initial flock of around 50.

The NGO thanked those who alerted it to the storks' presence and urged people to keep an eye out for the birds.

This comes after Ornis, the government's consultative committee on hunting, recommended the opening of the spring season for turtle dove, despite issues raised by BirdLife Malta in February that Malta must stop spring hunting of the bird or face legal action.

Meanwhile, hunting lobby group FKNK said that it has no information that any of the storks were injured or killed between Thursday and Friday. 

It said that many of its members were following these birds and reported no incidents. "The fact that the flock dispersed and appeared in smaller numbers does not mean that any birds were killed."

"Despite all this, members of FKNK and the public are encouraged to pass on any information to the authorities when they notice any sort of abuse in relation to storks or other protected birds flying through our country in this time of year."