The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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CABS and police raid illegal trapping operation in Għaxaq - 136 live protected birds seized

Thursday, 22 September 2022, 09:26 Last update: about 7 days ago

An investigation conducted by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has led the police to one of  the largest illegal live bird collections seized on Malta in recent years, a CABS statement said Thursday.

CABS said that its teams were able to confirm that a field near Għaxaq was being used for large-scale illegal trapping and that a multitude of protected birds were being held on the same property. The information was handed over to the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) who – together with experts from the Wild Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) – inspected the site and confiscated two sets of large clap-nets and a total of 136 live protected birds from 18 different species.

Several plastic decoys and stuffed herons – another protected species – were also taken as evidence, CABS said. A male suspect was apprehended on site. He is expected to be prosecuted for illegal trapping and illegal possession of protected species. According to CABS, the suspect may also face charges for animal cruelty violations.

The live birds found on the site include 16 green sandpipers, 16 wood sandpipers, 16 common sandpipers, 16 greenfinches, 13 little ringed plovers, 12 linnets, 9 little stints, 9 siskins, 8 chaffinches, 5 common ringed plovers, 5 serins, 3 black-winged stilts, 2 tree sparrows, 2 Temminck´s stints, 1 goldfinch, 1 yellow wagtail, 1 red throated pipit and 1 greenshank. The birds were inspected by a vet and later released in the Ghadira Nature Reserve.

Experts from BirdLife Malta assisted in the logging and banding of every bird with a scientific ring before the release. Unfortunately due to the terrible conditions that the birds were kept in, 8 of the waders did not survive, another 6 were too ill  to release and must first recover in a rehab centre. A large number of the others suffered from deliberately cut flight feathers and concretions of faeces on the feet due to unsuitable living conditions, however they will still be able to be released in the near future.

CABS thanked the police officers and the WBRU for their fast response and hard work on this case. The NGO said that its teams will continue to search for illegal trapping sites and monitor the ongoing hunting season until the end of the year.

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