The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Illegal hunting bird casualties rise, BirdLife Malta says over 50 protected birds shot this year

Monday, 19 April 2021, 16:23 Last update: about 22 days ago

Since the opening of the spring hunting season, bird casualties of illegal hunting are being encountered on a daily basis, BirdLife Malta said.

"These include birds found injured by members of the public, hunters shooting at turtle-doves under the smokescreen of the ongoing quail hunting derogation, and birds in flight with visible injuries. One of the latest victims to be photographed is an Osprey with evident blood stains seen along the northwest coast of Malta. Yesterday was a particularly black day, with non-stop calls reporting illegal hunting. Radio and TV personality Trudy Kerr reached out to us about her sad experience when a Lesser Kestrel was found during one of her runs in the countryside. This was collected by police who took the bird to the vet, confirming it had suffered shotgun injuries. Later on we were informed of a Black Kite with gunshot injuries which was also recovered by police from the south of Malta. Earlier we had also retrieved a Pallid Harrier from Gozo which was also confirmed as an illegal hunting casualty, together with two Common Kestrels, also with gunshot injuries."

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"The situation turned grevious by the evening when we were reported the find of seven shot Marsh Harriers in a field which is a popular roosting area for harriers migrating over Malta."

One of the birds was still barely alive after what seem to be incidents of night-time illegal hunting at these sites, BirdLife Malta said.

"The Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) of the Malta Police Force were called in to investigate the gruesome discovery which continues to indicate the level of impunity that we are witnessing from hunters who break the law with great ease, as a result of Government's direction to continuously appease the hunting lobby."

"To date 58 injured birds reached the government vet with gunshot injuries since the beginning of the year. This is 21 more than what we had by this time in 2020, which was the worst year for illegally hunted protected birds in the past eight years."

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: "This remains the tip of the iceberg with hundreds if not thousands of protected birds being shot down in Malta and Gozo every year. We continue to ask the Maltese Government to take this issue seriously even if we know that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears so far. To the contrary, the European Commission is listening and is understanding the gravity of the situation. We are reporting everything to the Commission and asking it to intervene with all its powers to stop this massacre of birds in our islands."

 


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