The Malta Independent 19 April 2019, Friday

More protected birds shot down as spring hunting season opens

Wednesday, 10 April 2019, 15:32 Last update: about 8 days ago

Two protected birds were shot down illegally a few hours before the start of this year’s spring hunting season, which started today, Birdlife Malta said.

The birds, a Marsh Harrier (Bagħdan Aħmar, main photo) found by the public in Mġarr and a Yellow-legged Gull (Gawwija Prima, below) also found by a member of the public at Tas-Safra, have both been confirmed shot, the group said.  

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The total of illegal hunting casualties for 2019 so far now stands at 22.

The spring hunting season, which only allows for the shooting of quail, will run until 30 April.

Birdlife Malta says that the dates, which were extended further towards the end of April this year, will coincide more directly with peak turtle dove migration. “Effectively, this means that this year’s season will be an open season for the hunting of Turtle Dove (Gamiema) since the dates clearly overlap onto the peak migration period of the red-listed Turtle Dove during the last two weeks of April,” it said.

Hunting is permitted from two hours before sunrise till 12 pm every day of the season. The national season quota was set at 5,000 Quail - both the daily quota and the individual season quota have been removed.

A total of 7,647 hunters applied for the hunting licence (6,395 registered hunters in Malta, 1,252 in Gozo). 

BirdLife Malta said it will be monitoring the hunting season with the aim of reporting and documenting the killing of protected species, especially the Turtle Dove.

“We are raising awareness on how to identify and report any illegal hunting. To this end, we have prepared a video which explains all the public needs to know about the very evident differences between the Quail and the Turtle Dove. It will help the public recognise which of these birds are being hunted and enable them to identify any illegal hunting taking place,” the organization said.

People witnessing illegal hunting should take the following steps:

1. Contact the police on 119

2. Contact BirdLife Malta on 2134764 5/6 (office hours) & 7925 5697 (evenings and weekends)

3. Take photos/video for evidence

4. For more information about hunting and the laws in Malta, one can visit www.birdlifemalta.org/information/hunting

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