BirdLife gift Robert Abela bloodied turtle dove sculpture on eve of spring hunting season

Shot turtle dove sculpture deposited at Castille by BirdLife as a reminder of the reality of spring hunting

BirdLife's gift to the Prime Minister
BirdLife's gift to the Prime Minister

BirdLife Malta gifted Robert Abela a sculpture of a shot turtle dove in a stunt to highlight what they called the “true reality” of spring hunting.

Standing on the steps leading up to Castille, officials from the bird conservation group said the ultimate responsibility of opening the spring hunting season fell on the government. 

They were reacting after the Ornis Committee, a government advisory body, voted on Wednesday to recommend the opening of a spring hunting season next month.

Hunters will be able to shoot on quail and turtle dove with set national limits.

The ultimate decision to open the spring hunting season rests with Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, who is responsible for the hunting portfolio.

BirdLife said the recommendation by Ornis ignores the fact that the turtle dove is a vulnerable species and that Malta is already facing several infringement procedures initiated by the European Commission.

The officials also criticised hunting organisation FKNK’s proposal for the opening of a trapping season for turtle dove to replenish the gene pool of its breed-and-release programme. The proposal was well received by the Ornis Committee but cannot be implemented this year because of the limited timeframe to get the logistics in place.

BirdLife said the trapping proposal was being disguised as scientific research and disregarded the vulnerable status of turtle dove.

“This comes as no surprise since three supposedly independent voters at Ornis are chosen by Minister Clint Camilleri,” BirdLife said.

Highlighting the lack of enforcement, especially in Gozo, BirdLife Malta President Darryl Grima pleaded with the Police Commissioner not to fear the Gozo Minister and enforce trapping and hunting laws.

“Until then, BirdLife Malta will once again take it upon itself to be present with its yearly Spring Watch Camp and monitor the migration of birds and the activities of hunting and trapping,” Grima said.

BirdLife encouraged the public to contact the NGO and the police should they witness or suspect any illegalities.