Birdlife says spring hunting remains a key concern

During a meeting at Castille with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes, Birdlife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said that spring hunting remained a key concern for the organisation

Speaking during a meeting at Castille between Birdlife Malta council members, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Animal Rights Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes, Sultana said that irrespective of the result of last year’s referendum, spring hunting remained one of the organisation’s central concerns given the change in status of turtle doves.

“Since the referendum it has become an endangered species and placed on the international red list,” he said, adding that this made a reassessment of the practice inevitable.

During the referendum on spring hunting held on April 11, 2015, voters voted narrowly in favour of retaining the practice, with 50.4% voting in favour of retaining spring hunting.

Sultana also expressed concerns about the way the Ornis committee – which decides on issues such as the study on trapping, licensing and registration – is formed, and said that this means that sometimes the best interest of the species was not safeguarded as necessary.

Sultana also spoke about the need to strengthen enforcement roles and that the organisation felt it would be better to give the remit to another authority rather than entrust it to the Wild Birds Regilation Unit, which “created the laws itself,” according to Sultana.

Joseph Muscat agreed that work needed to be done about turtle dove hunting given the development on an international level.

“The government and hunting lobbies themselves are beginning to understand the importance of changing practices,” he said.

Muscat added that he respected the tradition of the organisation and that the government and Birdlife had a good relationship and that he looked forward to expanding the work of the organisation.

Muscat also praised the group’s role in educating children in schools.

“Data shows that enforcement has increased over the past two years,” he said, stressing the government’s commitment to clamping down on abuses.

He looked forward to further cooperation with more respect for regulations.