Malta Spring Hunting closes but 54 hunters facing wildlife related charges

Enforced inspections carried out by the Maltese authorities during this year’s spring hunting season have doubled over last year and quadrupled since 2012, the government said. Spring hunting 2014 came to an last  Wednesday and was marked by constant arguments between the hunting lobby and the conservationists, with the latter being called in for questioning by the police.

Hunter-Malta

According to hunting lobby FKNK, thousands of hunters “deserved praise for the disciplined manner in which the relative hunting law was adhered to this year”.

According to the conservationists, while authorities have sought to portray increased enforcement and cooperation with BirdLife Malta and a reduction in illegal hunting, BirdLife Malta has not found this to be the case.

Statistics released by the government show that the Police and the Armed Forces of Malta collectively maintained a routine daily field deployment of 69 officers between 5 am and 3 pm. Deployment was further boosted during early morning hours up to maximum of between 80 and 96 officers.

A complement of 39 officers carried out daily patrols between 3 pm and 9:30 pm, whilst on certain dates, four officers were deployed on night patrols until 5 am to monitor significant roosts of protected birds.

During the season, the police unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle (UAV) flew 25 sorties, ranging in duration between 15 and 30 minutes each, the majority of which were conducted during hours when hunting was not permitted.

Wild Birds Regulation Unit officials provided assistance in surveillance and investigations on a 24-hour basis and have also carried out separate field inspections during the season.

“This ratio of enforcement deployment per square km of countryside is by far the highest of any country in Europe,” the government said.

During the season, officers carried out 2,105 physical spot-checks on individual hunters (circa 21% of all licensed hunters) to verify compliance with special spring hunting license conditions.

These spot checks were performed in addition to 2,178 routine field patrols and inspections carried out by the ALE, and several hundred further inspections carried out by district police units as well as Gozo police.

“The total number of inspections and spot checks carried out during 2014 spring hunting season is more than double the number of inspections carried out during 2013 season and more than four times greater than the number of spot checks carried out in 2012,” the government said.

2,054 inspections were carried out in 2013 while 1,072 inspections were carried out in 2012. By the end of the season, 54 suspected offenders were apprehended. These individuals are being charged with a total of 63 suspected offences that have been disclosed until 30 April.

“11 violations are considered to be more serious as these involved suspected targeting of protected birds, hunting without a license, or hunting within a bird sanctuary,” the government said. All cases are being prosecuted.

Malta-Hunters

Maltese police officer in hot pursuit of a hunter

In addition, police officers located and dismantled 11 illegal electronic bird callers and investigated several reports of suspected targeting of protected birds.

“However, evidence gathered through investigations so far was insufficient to identify and charge suspected offenders in court,” the government added.

By comparison, during 2012 spring hunting season, the police disclosed a total of 64 offences, of which 24 violations were of relatively more serious nature, involving hunting without license, during undetermined hours, in prohibited areas, or illegal trapping of protected birds.

During 2013 season, 53 hunting offences, of which 18 relatively more serious, were disclosed.

“The fact that during 2014 season, fewer serious incidents have been disclosed despite the greatly increased enforcement surveillance underscores that the overall rate of compliance has improved.

2 comments to Malta Spring Hunting closes but 54 hunters facing wildlife related charges

  • Terry Pickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

    This spring members of the North West Raptor Protection Group have undertaken a methodical review of historical raptor sites in the Forest of Bowland but have found very little to be happy about.

    All we have seen is huge expanses of empty and desolate manicured heather moorland where once the hen harrier, short-eared owl and peregrine were a common sight just 5 years ago. Today the only sight and sounds are the calls of red grouse, and a few curlew. Much of Bowland’s pristine heather habitat, once favoured by nesting hen harriers, has vanished trimmed down by machine to a much lower hight by estates to deter hen harriers from nesting on moorland designated as an SPA.

    Several peregrines nesting sites have been found totally destroyed, and for the second consecutive season a peregrine nest robbed of eggs last year suffered the same fate again this spring.Is anyone prepared to do or say anything about this unacceptable situation, well of course not because no one has the courage to do so as it would upset estate owners and their gamekeepers who clearly are calling the shots.

  • Skydancer

    Hen harrier day in august, a protest on the dukes land would be good,let’s see if the Rspb, the stalwarts and others that say they care about birds of prey in Bowland turn up.