Rift in lobby as St Hubert Hunters express support for wildlife crime unit

FKNK says St Hubert Hunters are not supporting turtle dove season over fears of abusive hunting

Turtle Doves found in an illegal cage trap in Gozo. Photo: CABS
Turtle Doves found in an illegal cage trap in Gozo. Photo: CABS

Malta’s hunting lobbies have differed over whether a new hunting season for turtle dove should be opened in the spring, after a moratorium that was introduced in 2017.

The hunters’ federation FKNK said that Kaċċaturi San Ubertu (KSU) have opted not to propose a 2019 spring hunting season for the turtle dove.

The FKNK on the other hand said it had worked on a study containing “scientific exercises leading to a module for sustainable harvest management of the turtle dove in accordance with the unique situation prevailing on the Maltese islands.”

The study will be included in a document that FKNK will present in a bid to re-open the hunting season in 2019 in derogation of the EU’s ban on hunting in spring.

The FKNK said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and parliamentary secretary for agriculture Clint Camilleri have already been given an abstract of the proposal, ahead of the final document for their consideration in the coming weeks.

But the KSU sent a letter to the Ornis Committee, the consultative body for hunters and conservationists and the Wild Birds Regulation Unit, in which it outlined its opinion on the 2019 season to hunt for quail in the spring.

“Dates extending towards the end of April could coincide with the peak of turtle dove migration, temporarily a protected species, and as such KSU stresses on the importance of the increasing enforcement especially during the open season and extended into May to curb abuse.  Towards this aim KSU supports the setting up of a Wildlife Crime Unit as an additional separate police entity to assist the ALE.

“KSU... pledges their support by appointing observers, who... will also be reporting any observed illegalities to the authorities.”

The FKNK said it failed to understand KSU’s “resigned attitude”, which it claimed was harassing legal hunters rather than standing up for their rights.

“The FKNK believes that it is in the interest of all hunters that there is consistency in any approach taken by hunting associations… The FKNK would have imagined that it had the support of the KSU, at least on this issue, and therefore asks the KSU to be much more careful in its approach, especially when writing about such delicate and sensitive issues which at the end of the day are public domain.”

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