Galdes keen to dispel link between army patrols and increased poaching

Parliamentary secretary deploys soldiers to patrol nature reserves but annoyed at BirdLife's observation that this is sign of uncontrolled poaching.

Roderick Galdes has brought in the army to clamp down on poachers. Photo: Michela Cecchi
Roderick Galdes has brought in the army to clamp down on poachers. Photo: Michela Cecchi

Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes has taken umbrage at BirdLife's criticism of the government's efforts in curbing what has turned into a free-for-all out in the countryside, as Armed Forces personnel had to be deployed to apprehend poachers.

"Their attitude and criticism is unjust," Galdes said, of BirdLife's claim that the increase in security officers was a confirmation that illegal hunting had increased.

"It goes against BirdLife's argument that more enforcement is needed. One asks what their reaction would have been had we reduced the amount of people enforcing the rules."

This year's spring hunting season was launched on the steam of a promise by the Labour government to remove a fee for the spring hunting licence and without hunters having to wear an identification armband.

"This decision shows that the government is not ready to tolerate illegalities, even if it permits legal hunting. The AFM soldiers patrolling nature reserves' boundaries is assisting police officers to carry out their surveillance effectively," Galdes said.

Up to 28 soldiers have been made available to assist the police in controlling spring hunting.

Since Tuesday, BirdLife monitors in Delimara have encountered soldiers who have been conscripted to help police the spring hunting season, which is made possible by a derogation of the EU Birds Directive.

The Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, which has been the focus of so much attention from illegal hunters in recent days, now has soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles patrolling the reserve to keep illegal hunters at bay.

"This is the sort of thing you might expect to see in a developing country, not in Malta which in all other respects is a wealthy and progressive European nation," Spring Watch Coordinator Nicholas Barbara said.

According to Barbara, "the decision to use soldiers to police the spring hunting derogation clearly demonstrates that the hunting season has not been strictly supervised to date and has therefore been illegal."

While the government might claim that this latest move demonstrates that they are taking the issue of illegalities seriously, BirdLife Malta said this development proves that illegal hunting is rife in the Maltese islands and civilian authorities are unable to tackle the situation effectively.

"It is surely desperate measures to call in soldiers who have no special training in dealing with wildlife crime to deal with what should be a matter for a properly equipped and trained wildlife crime unit," Barbara said.

BirdLife Malta executive director Steve Micklewright said, that anyone "who thinks that this spring hunting season is being strictly supervised within the rules is in a severe state of denial".

Micklewright was referring to FKNK officials pleading guilty to illegalities associated with spring hunting, but not being suspended from the organization and the government sending soldiers in to the countryside to control the situation. 

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I would like to join A Pace in congratulating those hunters who have observed the law, but unlike him I would like to condemn in the strongest possible terms the hunters turned poachers found in the nature reserves. These are people who bring shame upon Malta, giving the world the impression that your great country is full of people who consider their own selfish desires to be more important than the common good and the law, and are willing to sacrifice threatened species such as the magnificent Turtle Dove for their own blood lust. There can be no referendum on allowing these irresponsible people to behave so appallingly in springtime, as it is illegal internationally, just as there can be no referendum on allowing killing of people during the spring: Malta is supposed to be a responsible member of the international community, and that involves duties towards others as well as privileges.
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veru qazzew kul maw tal bird life u il cabs jamlu ix xenati ax sissa hafna ahjar mis senalohra minnaha tal kaccaturi u nixtiq nejdlil cabs bix imorrusa spanja jaraw il glid mattoro dikmohqrija u il fox fir renju unit mela awnek ma jigi xejn qashaq il hsara li tamlu ubil haq illum jabat lanniversaryu ta chernobyl 27 sena ilu daqsek ila sejra lura il kacca u id dinja
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veru qazzew kul maw tal bird life u il cabs jamlu ix xenati ax sissa hafna ahjar mis senalohra minnaha tal kaccaturi u nixtiq nejdlil cabs bix imorrusa spanja jaraw il glid mattoro dikmohqrija u il fox fir renju unit mela awnek ma jigi xejn qashaq il hsara li tamlu ubil haq illum jabat lanniversaryu ta chernobyl 27 sena ilu daqsek ila sejra lura il kacca u id dinja
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If as Birdlife claim illegal hunting is rife in the countryside how come not a shot is heard after 3pm and how come not a shot is heard at Buskett and other protected sites? How many birds of prey were reported shot? Well done to the minister for providing continual surveillance by all the forces involved. Well done to all the hunters observing the law!
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Bicca tejatrin al la Maltes. Nispera li mhux ha jipruvaw sa mill-ewwel xhur tat-tmexxija li jibdew minghalihom jaghaddu n-nies minn ghajn il-labra bhall ma kienu jghamlu ta qabilhom. Viva l-Gahan Malti.
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PL(Government) should get this hot potato off it's hand and call a referendum,this way the people will decide.