The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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Updated: Birdlife retrieve another four injured protected birds, two confirmed shot

Joanna Demarco Monday, 25 September 2017, 14:43 Last update: about 6 years ago

In the late afternoon, Birdlife took to social media to update the public that out of the four injured birds, two were confirmed to be shot, whilst traces of bullets were not found in the other two.

Taking to Facebook, the NGO wrote "The veterinarian has just confirmed that two out of the four injured birds received during the last hours by BirdLife Malta have been shot. Both Grey Herons, which were earlier today shown to the press before being examined by the vet have evident gunshot injuries. The other two injured birds of prey, both Marsh Harriers, could not be confirmed as having been shot.

"With this latest development, the total of known casualties of this year's autumn hunting season rises to 13, which means that approximately one protected bird every two days has been shot at since the start of the season."

"One should point out that one of the two herons recovered during the past hours was shot in the Nwadar National Park perimiter where hunting is allowed. This ironically sends the message that shooting at protected birds is permitted in Malta's nature parks."

Earlier, just hours after Birdlife retrieved two shot flamingos yesterday, they received the news through public calls that another four protected birds were found injured.

In a news conference in front of the veterinary clinic where the birds will be checked and seen to, Birdlife brought the injured birds forward for the press to witness; two Grey Herons and two Marsh Harriers.

If the four are confirmed to have been shot, it would result in a total of fifteen birds retrieved by BirdLife since the Autumn Season began on 1st September, Birdlife Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara explained, which would average to one protected bird being shot every two days.

The Grey Heron's were found yesterday in Manoel Island and Xghajra. The Marsh Harriers were found at Chadwick Lakes yesterday and in Qormi earlier today.

Addressing the press, Birdlife CEO Mark Sultana said, "these are only the ones that have come to our attention, image all the ones which are currently frozen, or injured but are still flying to Africa," calling the situation "disgusting".

Drawing attention to the birds, Sultana said that it is "clear" that two were shot, whilst it is suspected that the others were also shot, however the verdict will be given by the vet in a while.

Sultana stated that "hunting protected birds happens all over Malta, and is not restricted to one area." Listing the areas in which the protected birds were found over this season, Sultana mentioned Mgarr, Hal Far, Ghaxaq, Vittoriosa, Mgarr ix-Xini, Manoel Island, Girgenti and Marsaskala, amongst others, emphasizing that the situation is widespread.

Barbara stated that police presents with regards to hunting has also been low. "When the flamningos were found yesterday there were about three units of police on duty," he said, "which means there were about ten, which is a few when taking into considerration the thousands of hunters." "We are feeling this lack of police presence," he said. 

He went on to say that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's statement for 'zero tolerance towards spring hunting' "is a gimmick". "With all this illegal hunting happening everywhere, the government is giving a clear message that it is ok to hunt this way," he said.

Sultana concluded that, when it comes to illegal hunting "we are only going backwards." "We haven't had so many protected birds shot in one day in ages," he said. "Hunters now have a nonchalant attitude, as they know that chances are that you will not get caught." 

Asked by this newspaper whether BirdLife were contacted by the authorities following the news of the dead flamingos yesterday, Sultana said that they were not contacted.

The CEO went on to say that the public reaction has been "positive". "The reaction of the public towards this situation has been very positive," he told those present. "This shows that the conscience of the public is growing." 

Nationalist Party statement:

The incident towards the end of last week where two flamingos and other protected birds were short should be condemned by all Malta and Gozo, in particular the hunting community, the PN said in a statement issued this evening.

The Opposition is appealing the thousands of hunters of good will to cooperate with the police and relevant authorities so that whoever broke the law is brought to justice.

 

“Acts such as this are not only ruining Malta’s environmental credentials but are also casting a dark shadow on thousands of law-abiding and responsible hunters”.

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