CABS confirms ‘massive’ ALE police turnover

NGO launches operation ‘Fatal Flight’ • bird trapper apprehended near Buskett copse

An Osprey photographed with its quarry. Photo: H. Glader
An Osprey photographed with its quarry. Photo: H. Glader

The Campaign Against Bird Slaughter has confirmed MaltaToday reports about a massive turnover and the forced transfer of many experienced Administrative Law Enforcement sergeants and officers in the last months.

“We have been informed that many officers who have worked with us in the past have been transferred to other units against their will. Their experience and know-how to bring poachers to justice will be missed this season. It is hard to believe that this is just a coincidence,” CABS president Heinz Schwarze said.

CABS said that on Wednesday morning, an advance staff team of CABS spotted an illegal trapping site for songbirds near Buskett in Rabat and alerted the authorities. A joint police-army patrol arrived at the scene and apprehended the trapper who is expected to be taken to court. Six live protected finches and pipits as well as a large clapnet were confiscated.

Last weekend an illegal trapping site for Ortolan Bunting and Dotterel was discovered at Gharghur, with a live Dotterel decoy and an electronic bird caller being played. The trapper escaped but nets were taken by police. CABS has informed the police about several other sites around Malta where electronic bird callers – mainly for Dotterel – can be heard at the moment.

The autumn migration of birds has kicked in with a good number of marsh harrier, falcons as well as the first flocks of heron and honey buzzard as well as a total of more than 100 Greater Flamingo arriving and roosting on Malta and Gozo, CABS said.

To ensure the safe passage of protected birds, CABS will conduct a large bird protection camp against illegal hunting and bird trapping on Malta from September 12 until 5 October.

A total of 18 experienced birdwatchers and activists from the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands as well as a number of local supporters will be involved in operation ‘Fatal flight’ – titled in a reference to the controversial tome on hunting penned by journalist and academic Natalino Fenech in 1992.

“There was a lot of improvement for birds in the last two decades but since the new government came into power many achievements such as the afternoon hunting curfew and the ban on finch trapping have been lifted,” CABS president Heinz Schwarze said.