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BirdLife brands objections to afternoon hunting ban as 'hypocritical'

BirdLife Malta said today that the objection by the hunters' federation (FKNK) to the hunting ban after 3pm in the last fortnight of September contradicted its agreement last year at the Ornis Committee for the same ban to be introduced.

The FKNK protested about the ban in a statement issued yesterday (see http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20100718/local/hunters-object-to-september-afternoons-ban )

BirdLife said that during an Ornis Committee meeting in February 2009, the FKNK had stated that it would agree to a 15-day ban on hunting in the afternoons between September 15 and September 30. Although unrelated, this was conditional to the government opening the spring hunting season.

"The afternoon hunting ban is necessary to give some respite to birds of prey that arrive in Malta exhausted from their journey from Europe to Africa. When migratory birds of prey arrive in the afternoon looking for a place to rest, they spend hours circling the island, which makes them easy targets for illegal hunters waiting to shoot at these exhausted birds," BirdLife said.

“The FKNK is suggesting that the ban in the afternoon is useless because poachers would kill the birds of prey anyway at night or in the morning. Yet, the FKNK ignores the fact that these birds of prey are protected by law, so what the federation should be doing is ensuring their members stay away from these birds,” said Dr André Raine, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager.

BirdLife Malta said birdwatchers attending the Raptor Camp locate the resting locations of the birds in the evening and together with the police keep an early watch in the morning to ensure the birds’ safe departure.

“The FKNK repeatedly talks about ‘zero tolerance’, but to this day they have never named and shamed their members who broke the law. Their focus remains the denial of the true scale of illegal hunting and the persistent demand for less legal controls over their members,” Dr Raine added.

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