Malta: The early forced closure of ‘Spring Hunting’ shows hunters’ inability to obey the law.

At a press conference outside the law courts in Valletta yesterday, BirdLife Malta outlined why the season’s closure was a result of the hunting community’s inability to obey the law. Remarking on the illegalities committed by hunters Mark Sultana, BirdLife Malta spokesperson said: “Despite a referendum result that showed very strong opposition to spring hunting and the Prime Minister’s remarks that this was the last chance for hunters, many of them just could not control themselves and we continued to witness illegal hunting throughout the season.”

The season was also characterised by escalating illegal activity as the season progressed. “Illegal bird shooting was taking place from almost the moment the season was opened, but as hunters became more confident, the offences became progressively worse culminating in a teenager sustaining gunshot injuries in Pembroke and a kestrel being shot and falling in to a school playground,” Sultana said.These acts took place against a social and political environment that expected hunters to obey the rules. “This should have been the season when illegal acts were removed from spring hunting, but seems that the hunting community was unable to listen to the warning signs of the Prime Minister and the closeness of the referendum result and they still decided to break the law. This is why the season was closed,” Sultana said.While there were less illegal hunting acts than in previous years, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara said: “We still witnessed illegal killing of protected birds and basic breaking of the rules of spring hunting, such as hunters using shotguns capable of firing more than three rounds and extensive use of illegal electronic lures. This demonstrates a general disregard for the rules of hunting and also justifies the closure of the season.”

BirdLife Malta also reacted to claims by hunters that teachers and BirdLife Malta are themselves breaking the law by handling injured birds. “I will be in court on May 6th to defend the fact that it is not illegal to rescue a bird that is injured and suffering because it has been shot by hunters, and that these illegalities can be reported and exposed by everyone rather than be silenced,” Barbara said.

Barbara is one of a number of BirdLife activists that have been charged with illegally handling protected species in a malicious prosecution forced on the authorities through the actions of the FKNK, hunters’ federation. “The FKNK are trying to conceal the abuse of hunting rules that take place by hunters, even in areas supposedly managed by themselves such as Mizieb. BirdLife Malta will continue to expose these abuses until they stop once and for all,” Sultana said.

BirdLife Malta lists incidents reported during hunting season

Welcoming the closure of the season,  BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara said, “The closure follows a series of recorded incidents involving illegal shooting of birds beginning with the shooting of a cuckoo on the second day of the season.

“We welcome the decision of the Prime Minister to close the season following this latest dramatic incident. This decision means that many other birds should safely pass through Malta in the next few days, but we are sorry that young children had to see such a magnificent bird in such a terrible state. “

Reacting to a comment by an ‘Iva’ referendum campaign activist and an FKNK representative that collective punishment was not fair, Mr Barbara said, “Nearly 50% of Maltese voters have made it absolutely clear that they condemn spring hunting. In reaction to this, the Prime Minister has made it clear that the hunting community is on its last chance. His decision to close the season today is a sign that he is serious about this.”

Timeline of Incidents

15 April:   Cuckoo shot at Manikata, man fined €2,500 and claimed he mistook it for a turtle dove

16 April:  Lapwing Shot and injured near Hal Far, man sentenced to three months in prison

22 April:  Injured cuckoo found in Mizieb

24 April:    Teenager hit by lead pellets in Pembroke, claims hunter slapped his face

25 April:  CABS witness attempted shooting of kestrel close to airport

25 April: CABS film hunter after curfew

25 April:   CABS team find cuckoo in Mizieb hidden in bushes with shotgun injuries

26 April:   Yellow legged gull with injuries typical of shot gun damage foundPembroke by member of the public

27 April: Injured shot kestrel lands in grounds of St Edwards School, Cospicua

In addition, a total of 63 illegal bird callers detected by CABS during the hunting season


1 comment to Malta: The early forced closure of ‘Spring Hunting’ shows hunters’ inability to obey the law.

  • nirofo

    Should be banned totally, if they can’t comply with the EU regulations then they should be thrown out. I never understood how they were allowed to join in the first place.