Police net young hunter seen chasing storks
The police have so far arrested one man in connection with reports of rare black storks being shot but the young hunter may not be responsible for bringing down any of the birds. The police appear to have caught him in the nick of time after the suspected, in his 20s, abandoned his car (with the engine still running) in the middle of a country road in Żurrieq in order to chase the storks approaching overhead.
He had seemingly disappeared but the officers realised what he was up to when they saw live cartridges on his car seat. "The man just went into a frenzy. He left the car engine running and with the door wide open and just ran after the storks," sources said.
The police went to his home and called on his cell phone number after speaking to his relatives. He agreed on the phone to return home and hand in the gun. He was then arrested.
He is thought to have admitted chasing the storks, which at that point were still flying too high for him to be able to shoot them. However, he eventually realised there were the police and unloaded his gun.
He is expected to be arraigned in connection with hunting violations.
The arrest comes on the back of a damning video released on Tuesday by the German-based anti-hunting group CABS and which shows a rare black stork being shot down.
The group, which claimed that there had been a massacre of protected birds between Friday and Saturday, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding the immediate closure of the hunting season.
The Prime Minister, in turn, called on the police to investigate the reports.
Police sources say the investigations will heavily depend on whether they will be able to obtain any fresh information, perhaps from disgruntled hunters who want to avoid collective sanction by the government.
The same sources said the police had spotted two groups of black storks and were following them as best they could to ensure the birds were not hunted down. The flocks split and of 11 sighted initially approaching Malta over the weekend only eight were seen leaving early this week.
"I cannot say that they were hunted down but three storks are unaccounted for," an officer in the field told The Times, confirming the tally of shot storks reported by CABS on Thursday.