The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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BirdLife request to stop opening of spring hunting season rejected

Tuesday, 9 April 2024, 14:09 Last update: about 2 months ago


BirdLife’s request to stop the opening of the spring hunting season has been rejected by a court of law.

In a post on Facebook, BirdLife said that Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale rejected their request to stop the MaltaGov from opening a spring hunting season on the European Turtle-dove in 2024 as recommended by the ORNIS Committee.

In a nine-page decree, the Judge also revoked the decision taken five days ago in which the Court had provisionally accepted BirdLife Malta's request for a Warrant of Prohibitory Injunction to stop the season on this vulnerable species.


This means that the Government can now proceed with the announcement of this year's spring hunting season, which is normally opened between the 10th and the 30th of April for Common Quail and European Turtle-dove, BirdLife said. Last year hunting for #TurtleDove was allowed from 17 April until the end of the month.

In his decision to reject the injunction, Mr. Justice Francesco Depasquale said that there was no doubt that the turtle dove population was in fact, in decline, but expressed scepticism at the claim that the principal cause for the loss of the species could be mainly attributed to “two weeks of hunting in April on the tiny island of Malta, which this court observes is nothing more than a rock in a big sea dividing Africa and Europe.”

This is the third time that BirdLife Malta has filed such an injunction, with the Judge observing that the NGO had used identical grounds to do on previous occasions.

The court continued that the first injunction was not successful because the court handling it had ruled that the legal notice that they were contesting could be contested through other means, and that BirdLife Malta’s stated interest would not be irremediably prejudiced by the refusal of the said injunction.

The second injunction was unsuccessful because the court saw that there was no change in the circumstances that would have lead it to change the position expressed in the first injunction.

In handling this third injunction, the court said that it was expecting the applicants to exhibit documentation and evidence which shows that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances at hand which would give the court reason to discard the decisions in previous injunctions.

“This court, however, does not consider that any of the facts listed by the applicant association can in any way be considered as a considerable change of circumstances that could in any way lead this court to grant the request for issuing the current injunction.

“In no way can the court consider that the opening of such a case and/or that such a case is pending, should be considered as a basis for the current injunction to be accepted.”

The judge said that it was clear that BirdLife Malta’s case can be considered as nothing more than a case of “forum shopping” where it tries to file an identical request as in previous years “in the hope that a different judge would grant it.”

The court continued that the Wild Bird Regulation Unit had drafted a detailed and well-research report that was taken into consideration during the meetings of the Ornis Committee and which ultimately was factored into the decision to open the spring hunting season for 2024 with various limitations imposed.

In a statement in reaction to the news, hunting lobby Kaccaturi San Ubertu thanked the government for its stand against “repeated extremist attempts that try to deny Malta’s right to apply a derogation to hunt in spring.”

The lobby group said that this right is endorsed by the European Court of Justice and furthered by the majority vote in a referendum on spring hunting together with the Government's electoral mandate.

“It is nothing but vile for extremists to persist in abusing and wasting the time of our Courts following two similar Court decisions that threw out Birdlife Malta's warped arguments, as also did a referendum,” the group said.


It said that it will now await “the continuation of the incessant persecution of the hunting sector by means of deceit and media manipulation whereby Malta is given a bad name by those wanting to ban hunting at all costs.”


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