BirdLife presents dead turtle dove on Castille steps as proof of illegal hunting

Despite a closed hunting season for the turtle dove, BirdLife Malta found a dead bird on Thursday morning and brought it to Castille

BirdLife Malta presented a dead turtle dove on the steps of Castille on Thursday to serve as proof of hunting illegalities during the spring season.

The dead turtle dove was found in Delimara on Thursday morning by a member of the public. This person informed BirdLife and the team took it away to eventually take it to a vet.

Before doing so, BirdLife decided to present it in Valletta during a press conference.

“The turtle dove hunting season is closed, but this is reality,” BirdLife Malta president Daryl Grima told the press.

During the conference, a hunter and member of the hunting lobby group FKNK passed by and started remarking on how it is illegal to be in the posession of a dead turtle dove.

He called the police over to verify whether BirdLife’s stunt was legal or not, after which the police took down the details of the BirdLife members present for record’s sake.

Last week, a court upheld a prohibitory injunction requested by BirdLife Malta against the Maltese government, preventing it from issuing the legal notice that would in effect open a spring hunting season for the turtle-dove.

Grima said that hunters are ignoring this injunction and hunting the turtle dove anyways. “If the season is closed, then the authorities are not reporting an accurate figure on the amount of turtle doves being killed.”

He wanted to send a message to the European Commissioner for the environment: “There is zero enforcement. Don’t believe a single word or number being given to you by the government.”

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana noted how the Commissioner had already written to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri last year telling him to stop the spring hunting season. “It’s not common for the Commissioner to send such political letters.”

A European Commission task force on the Birds and Habitats Directive had already said that Malta’s derogation from the EU-wide spring hunting ban goes contrary to the Directive in question.

Malta’s continued derogation from the EU ban on spring hunting is already the subject of an infringement notice from the Commission, which will see it taken to the European Court of Justice unless rectified.