Malta: Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes silent over BirdLife ‘intimidation’ by Wild Birds regulator

BirdLife accused the WBRU of intimidating their officials in an attempt to silence the organisation from exposing the impact of illegal hunting.

Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes

Animal rights parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes has kept silent in the face of serious allegations that the state’s Wild Birds Regulation Unit is trying to prevent BirdLife Malta from exposing illegal hunting.

Wild Birds Regulation Unit head Sergei Golovkin e-mailed BirdLife last week to warn that the NGO isn’t covered by the Director of Veterinary Services’ authorisation to keep any living or dead birds or to euthanize injured birds. As such, he claimed that BirdLife are breaking the law.

BirdLife accused the WBRU of intimidating their officials in an attempt to silence the organisation from exposing the impact of illegal hunting.

MaltaToday sent questions to Galdes on 21 September about whether he agrees with Golovkin’s interpretation of the law, but he has failed to respond at the time of writing despite numerous reminders.

Should Galdes disagree with Golovkin’s interpretation of the law, it would risk creating a sense of confusion about the running of the WBRU, whose offices are located within Galdes’ own secretariat. However, should he agree with Golovkin, it would heavily contradict his own handover of a Buskett farmhouse to BirdLife to be used as a bird rehabilitation centre.

“The project aims to render obsolete the practice of putting down birds that are slightly injured,” Galdes had said at the handover in July.

Opposition MP Charlo Bonnici has called for a “reasonable solution” that would allow BirdLife to treat injured birds.

“Although the law prohibits the possession of protected birds, it is clear that the intention of the legislator was not to stop people from caring for birds,” Bonnici, the PN’s spokesperson for hunting, told MaltaToday. “In my opinion, we should try to find a reasonable solution through which other authorised competent entities and individuals, besides the government vet, are involved in the treatment of injured birds, ideally using the same protocol.

“In all this, we should ensure that all involved act in the best interests of the bird.”

However, he added that the WBRU’s concerns when e-mailing BirdLife were to discover the location of injured and dead birds, so that police can make immediate on-site inquiries to catch the law-breaking hunter.

In a recent case instigated by hunting federation FKNK, four BirdLife members were charged in court over the illegal possession of dead birds. The case was thrown out of court in June, with a magistrate ruling that BirdLife carries out such work in the best interest of birds.

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