[WATCH] BirdLife Malta calls for establishment of Wildlife Crime Unit after eagle was shot down

A specialised unit would help the police to combat criminal acts related to nature and environmental law enforcement, BirdLife Malta says

A short-toed and booted eagle was shot down over Girgenti
A short-toed and booted eagle was shot down over Girgenti
A booted eagle was euthanised after it was shot over Girgenti

BirdLife Malta called for the establishment of a Wildlife Crime Unit for Malta after a short-toed and booted eagle was shot down over Girgenti.

Lamenting that the latest shooting came precisely one month to the day after ten out of an estimated 60 of the same breed of eagle were killed, BirdLife Malta said that this specialised unit would help the police to be in a position to combat criminal acts related to nature and environmental law enforcement.

“It is clear that Malta needs a stronger law enforcement agency within the police force to work closely with NGOs to safeguard the birds and nature of our islands,” the eNGO said.

BirdLife Malta noted that there was a large amount of known shot birds and a long list of other known illegalities reported since the start of this year’s hunting season.

“In these circumstances, ironically, the only known arraignment by the police so far was that of 3 November when a 23-year-old Mosta man was charged in court with shooting one of the booted eagles observed over the Maltese Islands during the exceptional eagle migration last month. It was evidence collected by BirdLife Malta which led to his arrest,” it said.

According to BirdLife Malta, the protected booted eagle was reported to be illegally targeted by hunters at Girgenti at around 3:00pm. Around an hour later, fresh information led BirdLife Malta staff to retrieve the raptor from Girgenti Valley, which was euthanised after a vet certified its grievous gunshots injuries. “The eagle had its right leg broken and a pellet in its abdomen which was larger than permitted by law – indicative of the intent to specifically target birds of prey,” BirdLife Malta said.

It added that since the start of the autumn hunting season in September, BirdLife Malta rescued and ensured veterinary care for around 100 injured birds, ranging from the booted eagle and the iconic peregrine falcon to trushes, quail and starlings.

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