[WATCH] Hunter kills three white storks, BirdLife demands enforcement

BirdLife said that two of the birds were collected by the hunter while calling on the Prime Minister to 'get enforcement in order'

Three white storks were shot down by a hunter on Friday night
Three white storks were shot down by a hunter on Friday night

Four white storks were shot down on Friday, shortly after arriving in Malta, BirdLife said.

The NGO had originally said on Facebook that an unidentified man had been spotted shooting three storks, which arrived in Malta along with 15 others.

“Two of the three shot birds were collected, but when the hunter realized he was being watched, he left the third one behind,” BirdLife’s post read.

It added that the police’s Administrative Law Enforcement section were late to arrive on site, with the dead bird having to be collected by an inspector due to a “lack of available police”.

It said that the police from the Rabat district were monitoring some storks which had rested in the limits of Zebbug, Malta.

BirdLife called on the public to watchful eye and to inform the NGO, as well as the police, if they suspect any illegal hunting on protected birds.

The Prime Minister must “get enforcement in order”

In a statement issued on Saturday, the NGO stressed that the incident was not an isolated one, and showed the “extent of widespread illegal hunting”. “For years BirdLife Malta has called on the Prime Minister to set up a wildlife crime unit and it said that the reluctance to implement this was incomprehensible.”

The NGO said it was ironic that at the moment, the Wild Birds Regulation Unit and parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri were proposing a change in the law on wild rabbit hunting starting next June.

“They want to allow hunting to be done wherever the hunter pleases rather than stating the exact private land on which the hunter will hunt,” BirdLife said, adding that this would weaken the law.“It will allow it to be a stronger smokescreen than what it is presently.”

The storks soaring over Zebbug this morning as they make their way to North Africa
The storks soaring over Zebbug this morning as they make their way to North Africa

This wild rabbit season, the NGO said, would allow hunters to easily target protected birds, stressing that the Ornis committee should not allow the law to amended and weakened.

Furthermore it said that in the coming weeks, hundreds of birds of prey would be migrating over Malta and once again the authorities would be asked to “get their act together”.

Killing of protected birds and inexcusable criminal act

Kaċċaturi San Ubertu (KSU) said in a statement that “the killing of protected birds is inexcusable in civilized society and can only be termed as a criminal act”.

“Malta happens to have the harshest penalties for such crime and yet these acts occur sporadically notwithstanding the exemplary behaviour of the vast majority of hunters,” KSU said.

“Such acts cast a bad light on all hunters since a sector of those thriving from bird protection deceitfully depict apathy on the part of the authorities and anarchy and mayhem amongst the hunting community in their bid to gain public support against hunting. “

It said that reality and fact “prove exactly the opposite” and show that today’s hunters are at the forefront of attempts to educate society about protected species and environmental initiatives aimed at “helping visiting birds”.

KSU said that the actions of “a few irresponsible criminals”, who likely do not possess a hunting license or licensed shotgun, jeopardize “all the good done by hunters due to their despicable vandal acts”.

Furthermore it said that the government was holding out on enacting its electoral pledge to revise hunting penalties because of such illegal acts.

“It would certainly help if all the hunting community would follow Kaccaturi San Ubertu’s example and cooperate with the authorities to identify any perpetrators whose actions are noting but damage to sustainable hunting no matter how this is being promoted.”