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Malta - Illegal hunting worse than previous years

02/10/2012 08:59:04

A Common Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and Honey Buzzard, all juveniles, all shot, received by BirdLife Malta in a single day (26th September 2012) during the autumn hunting season. Photograph by Luke Massey

Raptors targeted over Malta
September 2012. Illegal hunting and killing of protected birds in Malta has increased significantly during the autumn migration according to the initial analysis of data collected by BirdLife Malta's international Raptor Camp observers.

Since the hunting season opened on the 1st September BirdLife Malta alone has received 23 protected birds that had been shot - an increase of more than 40% over the same period last year. BirdLife teams have also once again found the remains of 13 protected birds in the Mizieb woodland and passed the evidence onto the local authorities.

BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara, accused the authorities of failing to properly investigate wholesale killing of protected birds in Mizieb and other parts of Malta;

"More than 280 dead protected birds were found in Mizieb in 2009-2010 and all the evidence was passed on to the police. Yet three years later, despite our repeated requests, the authorities have not revealed the results of their alleged investigations nor made any progress towards identifying the perpetrators of some of the worst wildlife crimes Malta has seen."

BirdLife Raptor Camp
Since the 14th September, BirdLife Raptor Camp and CABS teams have recorded a total of 119 incidences of shooting at protected species and 76 protected birds in flight with visible gunshot injuries.

Raptors hunted
Birds of prey remain the most targeted group of protected birds hunted over Malta, with Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards and Common Kestrels topping the number of incidents as in previous years. Both organisations also recorded a total of 469 other illegal hunting related incidences, including shooting outside permitted hours and use of illegal electronic tape lures.

Enforcement of hunting legislation woefully inadequate

Since the beginning of Raptor Camp on 16th September, BirdLife teams have also noted the presence of police units patrolling the countryside. Results show that on average 4 ALE vehicles have been seen monitoring Malta's 10,000 licensed hunters each day (Out of a population of some 420,000 people).

"When you compare the number of officers to the numbers of illegal incidents it is obvious that the resources allocated to policing illegal hunting are nowhere near sufficient. Malta desperately needs a dedicated wildlife crime unit, with the resources and specialist training to properly tackle this problem," said Nicholas Barbara.

"Instead, promises are made and agendas promoted in favour of extended hunting and trapping seasons in spring and autumn. With the stark failure of the authorities to control illegalities in the first month of the current hunting season, the prospects for efficient enforcement during an added trapping derogation this autumn are likely to land Malta at the European Court again," concluded Mr. Barbara.

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