Malta: More needs to be done to stop illegal hunting – BirdLife


Tim Attard Montalto
“Strong rhetoric and brute manpower not enough”
BirdLife Malta said that, despite government’s efforts to stamp out illegal hunting, it should keep in mind that simple words and brute manpower alone are not enough to stop the illegal shooting of protected birds.

BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara said that “despite claimed increased enforcement, protected birds were still killed in large numbers throughout the island in the last month.”

“The tactics employed by enforcement officers were not effective enough in detecting these crimes and gathering evidence to bring their perpetrators to justice,” he said.

In a study carried out by BirdLife, it emerged that of the 95 officers deployed to police the hunting season between September 15th and October 7th, around 21 only were actually seen patrolling the countryside in any one shift.

In Gozo, no ALE or AFM patrols were operating on the island at all and CABS report seeing police only when they were responding to incidents reported by CABS tea theelves. 

“What we are repeatedly seeing each hunting season is that this approach to enforcement is only effective as a deterrent as long as the patrols remain in a location. As soon as they leave the deterrent leaves with them and this approach hugely reduces the likelihood of police actually catching anyone targeting protected species,” Barbara said.

He said that a “new, smart approach” was needed with “specialist training and dedicated personnel” in order to catch hunters who continue to hunt illegally.

“It is not enough to just throw numbers at the problem or to leave it up to NGOs to detect and report crimes for the police to respond to,” he said.

In the period between September 15th to October 7th, there was only one reported incident of a shooting of a protected bird.

During the same period BirdLife, together with CABS tea, witnessed a total of 111 cases of birds being shot at or shot down.

“While this situation exists the government cannot continue to bury its head in the sand. The reality is that the 3pm curfew was the most effective measure yet found to prevent protected birds of prey from being killed by illegal hunters. Its removal this year has proved disastrous for these birds,” Barbara said.

“If the government is genuine in its commitment to stop illegal hunting, it will commit itself to reinstate the 3pm curfew next year, while keeping the extension of the curfew into the first week of October.” Barbara concluded.

Birdlife Malta should be officially monitored – claims hunters

Rather than commending the Government or offering a cooperative hand to the hunting organisations in their bid to eradicate abuse, Birdlife preferred to conduct their own independent observations that infallibly resulted in hundreds of incidents no one could verify, St Hubert Hunters (KSU) said.

In a statement following a statement issued earlier by Birdlife, KSU said that in view of Birdlife’s repeated false and damaging allegations, it called on the Government to monitor all the activities of the Birdlife Raptor and Spring Watch Camp participants for any possible abuse in terms of trespass, harassment of hunters and false reporting.

“Birdlife Malta’s internationally publicised unverified allegations are just as damaging to Malta as the few remaining law breakers and as such should be policed with equal vigor,” they said.

Birdlife contended that Government’s commitment to increase personnel to enforce hunting regulations and apprehend any law breaker was, as was to be expected, still not to their satisfaction.

The organisation persisted with twisting facts to the detriment of the law enforcement officers and legal hunting for their own egoistic purposes, KSU charged.

It said that the statistics provided by the enforcement authorities proved without doubt that illegal hunting was not only declining but was far detached from the figures declared by Birdlife.

KSU commended the authorities for taking up the issue seriously and testified that their records of police patrolling during hunting hours and the curfew period disproved Birdlife’s allegations of inadequacy.

1 comment to Malta: More needs to be done to stop illegal hunting – BirdLife

  • John Miles

    A few years ago I watched a man take 21 shots at a Skylark. I could not afford that number of shots!! Are cartridges too cheap on Malta? Heavily tax the cartridges and you may slow up the shooting.