Anxiety and stress linked to hunting ban
FKNK issue a booklet for tourists
Hunters suffered from higher levels of depression and anxiety in the wake of a spring hunting ban imposed in 2009, according to a study published yesterday.
From a randomly selected sample of 780 hunters and trappers, 61 per cent reported seeking professional help for a mental health problem.
The independent study conducted by the Malta Association of Psychiatric Nurses was commissioned by the hunting federation, FKNK, and covered the three months starting from June 2009.
At the time senior officials of the federation had claimed that a ban on spring hunting and the abolition of trapping had pushed some of their members to commit suicide.
However, Martin Ward, a psychiatric nurse and one of the study’s authors, yesterday cautioned against drawing a direct link between the suicides and the legislative changes affecting hunters in 2009.
“There were three reported suicides at the time that seem to have been linked to the hunting issue and that is what pushed the hunting federation to commission this study. But the study does not establish that link, because dead people cannot be interviewed.”
Mr Ward admitted that personal issues could have contributed to the increase in mental health problems but insisted the link to hunting was a constant variable for all those interviewed and this could not be discarded.
The reported incidence of mental health problems in the hunting community was far above the national average, he added.
“The problem was significantly higher among those who were introduced to hunting at a very early age and those who dedicated a lot of time to the activity,” Mr Ward said.
The study showed that considerably more medication was prescribed to those who had been practising hunting for a longer period.
Giving an overview of the findings during a press conference organised by FKNK, Mr Ward said hunters had to consider whether it was appropriate to expose their children to hunting, given the potential consequences during adulthood if the activity was denied them.
He also urged policymakers to be aware of the potential impact of policy change on the mental health of interested groups, especially minorities.
At the press conference, the hunting federation also launched a booklet on hunting, which they said was intended to provide factual information.
The booklet by federation officials Lino Farrugia and Alfred Zammit is specifically written in English to reach out to tourists, which they said were often misinformed about the hunting situation in Malta.