The Malta Independent 20 June 2018, Wednesday

BirdLife Malta asks for results on ‘enforcement’ of trapping season to be made public

Saturday, 13 January 2018, 14:48 Last update: about 6 months ago

Evidence collected by BirdLife Malta indicates that enforcement has been slow and at times absent in the last trapping season, giving trappers a field day over the last two and a half months with police inefficiency and their lack of response being the order of the day, the NGO said today.

Between October and December 2017, the Maltese Government opened two trapping seasons for seven species of finches as well as for Golden Plover and Song Thrush. With circa 4,000 trappers licensed for the season and 8,000 trapping sites authorised by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU), enforcement of the season has relied upon the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) Unit in Malta and the District Police in Gozo who on multiple occasions during the past season, have failed to prosecute on evidence presented by BirdLife Malta.

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Investigations were made on several Sunday mornings last November at the Floriana markets, which revealed at least five vendors were illegally selling wild finches (not possessing closed rings) from their stalls. These markets are just metres away from the ALE headquarters. All vendors - a proportion of which hail from Gozo pet shops who have previously faced prosecutions on the illegal trade of finches - were reported to the police. However, searches held ten days after resulted in just two birds being seized for further inspection by the WBRU. Requests filed with WBRU over the nature of their investigations remain unanswered, while police sources have admitted to not having the capabilities of distinguishing wild birds from captive ones.

“The situation at the markets this year has been such a free for all that we have witnessed not just the usual vendors we report year after year, but even trappers, who have had a good catch of finches during the past season, selling their catch directly at the market,” commented Nicholas Barbara, Conservation Manager at BirdLife Malta. 

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