The Malta Independent 15 June 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Hunting with children - They doth demand the unreasonable

Saturday, 8 May 2021, 07:27 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) has, naturally, always been one of the foremost voices in defending hunting on the island, in a seemingly endless feud with environmental NGOs.

It’s as likely as the sun coming up in the morning that come hunting season – in particular, the spring hunting season – this feud escalates a few notches.

Indeed – here we are; no sooner than a week after the end of the spring hunting season, we’ve got BirdLife producing footage of the brother of a high-ranking FKNK official with a child using a shotgun while hunting, and the FKNK threatening to take to the streets in protest if two government commissioners do not resign.

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Let’s break it down.

This latest situation started after BirdLife Malta published footage of a child being filmed using a shotgun in the company of an adult, claiming that the adult in the video is the brother of the FKNK secretary general.

The NGO called for a change in the law so that hunters are prohibited from being accompanied by minors while they are out hunting.

The FKNK replied by saying that in proposing such, BirdLife Malta was “instigating more provocation and confrontation”, noting that their “manoeuvres” are totally unacceptable and that the measures proposed go against Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention – which states that the state has to respect the parents’ right to educate their children in conformity with their own religious beliefs and philosophies.

The case saw the intervention of the Commissioner for Children and the Commissioner for Animal Rights – with the former saying that authorities should take action to close a “lacuna” in the law which allows such situations, which can be unsafe to the child, to occur, and the latter speaking out against it because children are being exposed and desensitised to animal cruelty.

So, in essence, they’re doing their respective jobs of trying to protect children and animals.

For that, the FKNK wants them to resign, or else.

With apologies to Hamlet, they not only doth protest too much – but they doth demand the unreasonable.

Imagine an association demanding that the Children’s Commissioner be forced to resign for trying to protect children from getting hurt in an accident, or the Animal Rights’ Commissioner be forced to resign for saying that killing animals in front of children isn’t right.

Of course there are going to be disagreements on certain issues – and then one like hunting, which continues to be such a hot topic. 

But what does the FKNK expect?  That an Animal Rights’ Commissioner somehow agrees with their hobby of shooting birds out of the sky? 

And yet, here we are, in an absurd situation where FKNK has gone on the ultra-defensive, and gone as far as threatening to protest in the streets.

No doubt the referendum to ban spring hunting is still fresh in their minds – so perhaps one can understand the defensive attitude that the FKNK have taken; but let’s be a bit realistic here, and recognise that their demands are beyond excessive.

It is very well known that the government (and the Opposition, mind you) panders to the hunting lobby.  Recent decisions with regards to L-Ahrax and Mizieb, and the fact that certain politicians use the hunting lobby to posture on how they want to protect Maltese tradition is enough evidence of the standing that the lobby holds.

We only hope that the pandering does not extend to two Commissioners being forced to resign for ultimately doing their jobs.      

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