The Committee against Bird slaughter (CABS) has sharply criticised the opening of the spring hunting season for Turtle Dove and Quail and announced it will be monitoring the hunting that takes place.

“Killing migrant birds on their pre-nuptial flight represents direct and unacceptable intervention in the reproduction of these species” CABS President Heinz Schwarze said. “The majority of the 9,000 Turtle Doves and 2,500 Common Quail that the government has declared huntable are breeding birds. They will not reproduce again this year”.

"The female Turtle Dove has an annual reproduction rate of 1 - 2 offspring. CABS estimate that the killing of 9,000 adult birds in spring means that some 6,750 chicks fewer hatch in summer. To put this in perspective, the total Turtle Dove population in Switzerland is between 1,000 and 2,500 breeding pairs. Schwarze continues: “Quite independent of the legal aspects, the hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail in April is not sustainable and will only hasten the proven decline of both these species in many countries in Central Europe. We therefore appeal to all rational hunters to desist from hunting the birds in spring on the grounds of prudent conservation. If this injudicious killing continues, there will ultimately be little or nothing for hunters to legally shoot at in future years. This is of course not a new situation for Malta”.

CABS said it would conduct a 10-day bird protection camp in Malta towards the end of April in which some 12 Bird Guards will participate. Their main aim will be the recording of incidents of illegal hunting of protected species, particularly birds of prey. Their efforts will also focus on the search for illegally operated trapping installations as well as the locating of banned bird callers and reporting them to the police.

In addition, CABS said, it will monitor the permitted hunting of Turtle and Quail in order to ensure that it is carried out in accordance with the regulations announced by the Government.

CABS Operations Officer Axel Hirschfeld said the CABS teams would note the time and place of all observed cases of hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail, and will present their records to MEPA for comparison with the electronic text messages sent by hunters. They will also record incidents of hunting outside the permitted hours and compliance with the requirement for registered hunters to wear distinctive armbands.

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