The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

CABS films two illegal bird trapping operations just hours into the season

Sunday, 21 October 2018, 10:16 Last update: about 25 days ago

A team from the Committee Against Bird slaughter has filmed at least two illegal bird trapping operations, the group said in a statement.

The autumn trapping season, which started on Saturday 21 October, only allows for the trapping of two species - the song thrush and the golden plover.

CABS said a team deployed in the Mtahleb area alerted the authorities after they observed two protected Ring Ouzels (Malvizz tas-Sidra) in an aviary close to a trapping site. “The cage was shown to the police, who freed and released the freshly caught birds. The landowner was cautioned and awaits further questioning.”

Ring Ouzels are scarce visitors to the Maltese islands and are a red-listed species of conservation concern across much of its European range, CABS explained.

 

“In a separate incident, CABS members deployed near Qrendi were able to confirm that a trapping site registered for the capture of Song Thrush and Golden Plover was actually being used to catch protected finch species.  Footage released by CABS today clearly shows a man trapping finches with a 20-metre clap net and caged live decoys placed around the installation. The police were called and arrested the trapper red-handed in his hide. An illegal bird calling machine and 19 live birds, including Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Siskins and Greenfinches were seized.”

According to CABS, the man arrested in Qrendi is a repeat offender who was previously caught trapping finches this spring at the very same location.

“Despite the poacher awaiting trial for illegal trapping the government issued this suspect with a licence and also registered the trapping site he used illegally in spring“, CABS Wildife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said adding that, “rewarding known wildlife criminals with licences for bird trapping is exactly the opposite of true, effective regulation and enforcement. Given that two criminal cases were exposed on the very first day of the season we have deep concerns regarding the potential scale of trapping offences occurring in the Maltese countryside during this open season.“

CABS praised the police for their quick response and announced that its teams will continue to have a close eye on the situation until the end of the migration season. All cases will be reported to the Maltese authorities as well as to the European Commission, it said.

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