Hunters getting zero pushback from government? Shocking and unexpected, isn’t it...

The Skinny | No. 56 – The Hunter-Ranger Elite of Miżieb and L-Aħrax

What are we skinning? The government allowing hunters to rule over Miżieb and L-Aħrax.

Why are we skinning it? The madmen have taken over the asylum, comes to mind.

That’s neither fair nor politically correct. I would imagine ‘political correctness’ to be a bugbear of the hunting class, actually, wouldn’t you?

Actually, what is even a bugbear? I haven’t given it much thought until now, though it’s likely because I want to distract myself from this confounding and upsetting bit of news. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure local hunters would get a kick out of shooting it.

Either way, a lot of their own metaphorical bugbears have been sorted now, haven’t they? Yes, in being given ‘custodianship’ over the sizeable swathes of green land constituted by Miżieb and L-Aħrax, the hunting community can rest easy in the knowledge that they will continue to be treated with the same kid gloves they’ve always been treated by successive governments in power.

Because consistency and continuity matter, right. Yes, ‘integrity’ too, as our own former prime minister declared so gracefully and un-hypocritically during a recent TV interview.

But at the same time – hunters engage more directly with nature on a regular basis than most occasional picnickers and ramblers, even if this relationship is often expressed in the form of murder-bullets directed at our avian population nearly all year round. Shouldn’t they be given a shot at this? They’re allowed to take plenty of ‘shots at this’ – the present autumn hunting season will stretch on till the last day of January.

See, that is precisely the kind of smart-arse response one would expect from a member of the de facto ‘metropolitan elite’ – so out of touch with the realities and inclinations of our salt-of-the-earth compatriots, whose beautiful national tradition you are threatening to stomp out of existence. Hey, listen... I’m gonna have to machete through the salad of viscous identity politics you’ve just thrown my way to get to the nub of the argument.

Okay, take your time and get to it, then. Well, the fact is that we’re not just talking about a hobby now, we’re talking about a serious executive decision to grant members of an exclusive group custodianship over public land.

But it’s a toss-up between hunters and environmental NGOs, and both have the environment to heart, albeit with differences in approach and ultimate aims. There’s some value in what you’re saying, but the lack of serious, on-paper legal steps here is key.

How do you mean? Well, it’s been confirmed that the fabled agreement with former prime minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici that kickstarted this whole thing in the first place is, in fact, a non-starter. And there’s also been a shameful lack of transparency about the process itself all-round, with even Mellieha councillors complaining of being elbowed out of the decision-making process and simply being asked to capitulate.

So the short of it is that hunters will get what they want with zero pushback from government? Shocking and unexpected, isn’t it?

Do say: “While it is undeniable that hunters are sometimes unjustly demonised by certain segments of civil society and elements of the general public who are prejudicial to their past-time, their track record with self-regulation over the years does not exactly bode well now that they will officially be given custodianship over some of the largest, and preciously rare, swathes of green land on the island.”

Don’t say: “The solution is simple: give all members of the public hunting rifles, and allow them to shoot at hunters just as they are allowed to shoot birds.”

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