[WATCH] Galdes blames media for hunting ‘hysteria’

Parliamentary secretary for animal rights blames media for creating hype on hunting

BirdLife Malta representative Mark Sultana • Photos by Ray Attard
BirdLife Malta representative Mark Sultana • Photos by Ray Attard
KSU debate on spring hunting •Video by Ray Attard

Government believes that spring hunting can be sustainable, parliamentary secretary for animal rights Roderick Galdes said.

Speaking during a debate on hunting held on the university campus today, Galdes said that hunting was not a hot issue because of the electoral leverage held by the powerful hunting lobby but “it’s the media which splatters hunting on the front pages," adding that reports are imbalanced and hysterical.

He added that despite the anti-spring hunting lobby was pressing for a referendum, government “believes that spring hunting is sustainable.”

“The problem with hunting is that while the majority of hunters are responsible, others are not and a handful of hunters are downright criminals,” Galsed said.

Asked by the debate moderator Andrew Azzopardi whether he stood by government’s decision to suspend the autumn hunting season for two weeks, Galdes said this was done “to send a message to hunters that a collective effort is needed.”

Replying to accusations by St Hubert’s Hunters president Mark Mifsud Bonnici that the decision equated to collective punishment “more akin to communist countries,” Galdes insisted that had government opted for collective punishment it would have closed the season for good.

“We have done our part, now hunters must do theirs. They have now understood what is at stake, ” he said.

Last week, the autumn hunting season resumed after a 20-day moratorium imposed by the government following reports of illegal hunting. In the meantime, MaltaToday, The Times and The Malta Independent joined forces to create a common front against the continued use of political blackmail by the hunting lobby, and in favour of a Yes vote in a referendum on spring hunting.

Despite criticism by Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola over the lack of political will by successive governments to curb illegalities, Galdes stressed that enforcement was strengthened and harsher punishments were introduced over the past two years.

The Green Party chairperson retorted that "only governments with their back against the wall blame the media for their problems," adding that the failure of successive governments to act over the past 10 years has led to the current situation.

Cassola and BirdLife Malta representative Mark Sultana argued that the murder of migrating birds in spring could never be justified, adding that if the referendum goes ahead and the people vote in favour of banning spring hunting, birds will be allowed to reproduce and people will reclaim the countryside.