Malta – Army brought in to help police monitor spring hunting on the island.

BirdLife Malta said in a statment this evening that it “understands that up to 28 soldiers have been made available to assist the police in controlling spring hunting.”

BLM said that the first indications that they are being deployed have been witnessed by BirdLife Malta staff and Spring Watch volunteers this week, during which they have encountered soldiers from the Armed Forces of Malta policing the Maltese spring hunting season.

“Since Tuesday, Spring Watch teams in Delimara have encountered soldiers who have been conscripted to help police the spring hunting season, which is made possible by a derogation of the EU Birds Directive.

“In the Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, which has been the focus of so much attention from illegal hunters (including FKNK officials) in recent days, soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles can now be seen patrolling the reserve to keep illegal hunters at bay,” BLM said.

The NGO claimed that “the armed forces have been called in despite the Government continuing to claim that the derogation is being strictly controlled as required by the derogation of the EU Birds Directive that allows spring hunting to take place.”

Spring Watch Coordinator, Nicholas Barbara said, “This is the sort of thing you might expect to see in a developing country, not in Malta which in all other respects is a wealthy and progressive European nation.”

Mr Barbara added, “The decision to use soldiers to police the spring hunting derogation clearly demonstrates that the hunting season has not been strictly supervised to date and has therefore been illegal.”

“While the government might claim that this latest move demonstrates that they are taking the issue of illegalities seriously,” BirdLife Malta asserts that this development “proves that illegal hunting is rife in the Maltese islands and civilian authorities are unable to tackle the situation effectively.”

“It is surely desperate measures to call in soldiers who have no special training in dealing with wildlife crime to deal with what should be a matter for a properly equipped and trained wildlife crime unit,” Mr Barbara said.

Reviewing the general situation during the second full week of spring hunting, BirdLife Malta Executive Director Steve Micklewright said, “With officials of the FKNK pleading guilty to illegalities associated with spring hunting, but not being suspended from the organization and the Government sending soldiers in to the countryside to control the situation, anyone who thinks that this spring hunting season is being strictly supervised within the rules is in a severe state of denial.”

1 comment to Malta – Army brought in to help police monitor spring hunting on the island.

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