Maltese Customs officials confiscate dead protected birds including raptors killed in the UK

On 28 November three Maltese nationals were apprehended by customs at Malta International Airport in possession of dead protected birds. The three individuals were each returning home to Malta after visiting the UK where they had been on a hunting trip.

A joint operation between Customs, Administrative Law Enforcement police, MEPA officials and veterinary services officials revealed a number of protected birds including an undisclosed number of dead birds of prey had been found concealed in their luggage amongst other legal game species.

The birds discovered were protected by international law.

The three individuals were questioned and are now expected to be arraigned in court soon.

We should highlight that in Malta taxidermy is very popular and it seems likely the birds of prey and other game birds had been shot within the UK and were being returned to Malta as display trophies.

This kind of activity is not new to the UK. After police raided the home of wildlife photographer Dennis Green a number of years ago, dozens of illegally killed birds, including several cases of shot hen harriers were found at the home of Green. So many stuffed specimens were recovered it took two transit vans to remove most of the specimens found.  Before the police could remove many more stuffed birds Green burned them in his garden. After Green’s conviction he received a custodial sentence for his crimes.

It had long been suspected that Green had been using his licensed photography activities as a cover, collecting dead raptors which appeared to have been shot to order after photographing one nest after another. One thing has always remained a puzzle concerning Green’s photographic activities in the Forest of Bowland. It is well known Green conducted most of his hen harrier nest activities on the Abbeystead estate where he had been given approval by the estate to photograph many harrier nests under a licence issued to him by English Nature (Now Natural England). Despite the police investigation into the high number of shot hen harriers found in Green’s north of England home, it was never disclosed by the police where Green’s specimens had originated. We know that no fire arms were ever found by the police when conducting their search of the photographer’s home.

1 comment to Maltese Customs officials confiscate dead protected birds including raptors killed in the UK

  • paul williams

    With which UK sporting organisation did the Matlese hunters cooperation and get permission to shoot our wildlife. And I would like to know which UK estates were these birds shot on. Also, did they need a UK gun license and was this safari slaughter monitored by the relevant wildlife agency?

    Editors note: The raptors shot and taken back to Malta illegally were Buzzards