Hunters demand legal action against BirdLife for photo of trapped bird

Hunting lobby FKNK accuses BirdLife of animal cruelty after it published  photo of a golden plover trapped inside a small cage 

Trappers will never trap golden plovers in such small cages, according to the FKNK
Trappers will never trap golden plovers in such small cages, according to the FKNK

In a bizarre turn of events, the hunters’ federation (FKNK) has called on the authorities to take legal action against BirdLife for having published a photo of a golden plover trapped inside a small cage.

BirdLife has urged the government to close the trapping season for golden plover in the wake of widespread illegal electronic callers.

However, the FKNK has now accused BirdLife itself of resorting to animal cruelty in an attempt to abolish live-bird capturing, which they described as “a traditional socio-cultural passion”.

“BirdLife have today stooped so low as to publish a pitiful photo wherein a golden plover is seen severely restrained in a small cage which is normally used for much smaller-sized birds,” FKNK chief executive Lino Farrugia said in a statement. “Trappers will never permit such cruelty and the FKNK therefore draws the immediate attention of all responsible authorities against animal cruelties so that the necessary legal action is instituted against BirdLife Malta. Action, that in the FKNK's opinion should already be brought about just for publication of said photo.

The hunting federation suggested that BirdLife and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) are “undertaking such manoeuvres” so as to justify trespassing and deliberately damaging private property, to stop data on huntable bird species being collected through trappers’ bag statistics, or to influence the European Court of Justice in an ongoing case against Malta over the government’s decision to reopen the trapping season.

“We expect that these incidents, including this instance of cruelty to animals, are investigated and any necessary legal action taken forthwith, with the same intensity and seriousness as are normally investigated any alleged illegality of hunting and trapping incidents,” Farrugia said.

In 2012, following a complaint from the FKNK, the police prosecuted four BirdLife activists on charges of being in possession of protected birds after they had published a picture of themselves posing with illegally-shot specimens. The court dismissed the charges three years later.

‘If trapping is so cruel, then stop lobbying for it’ - BirdLife

In response, BirdLife’s conservation manager Nick Barbara urged the FKNK to stop lobbying the government to derogate from the EU’s trapping laws every year if it deems the practice so cruel.

“The question should be whether it’s cruel to place a bird in captivity for the rest of its life, which is essentially what trapping is all about,” he told MaltaToday. “They think that the cage in the picture was too small, but our argument is that every cage is too small. We published that photo to show people the reality of trapping, but it somehow seems to have triggered those strong emotions within the FKNK.”

More in Nature