Two more protected birds were found wounded after having been shot by hunters on Sunday, BirdLife Malta said.

A heron was found with a broken wing and shotgun wounds in Marsascala. Photo: BirdLife MaltaA heron was found with a broken wing and shotgun wounds in Marsascala. Photo: BirdLife Malta

A young flamingo was found wounded in the Dwejra area of Gozo by a tourist, who alerted police. The bird was taken to a veterinarian, who confirmed that the bird had large size lead pellets in its body and was suffering from heavy internal bleeding.

Large size pellets are illegal, as they are used to catch big game – such as herons, storks and flamingos – which are all protected species by law.

In a separate incident, a member of the public rescued an evidently wounded grey heron in Marsascala. The bird was passed on to police and then a vet, who found that the bird had a dislodged wing, broken leg and shotgun injuries.

The two bloody discoveries mean that at least five protected birds have been illegally shot down by hunters in the first nine days of the autumn hunting season.

In a Facebook post, BirdLife Malta lambasted Joseph Muscat for his continued silence over the continued killing of protected species, saying “a zero tolerance approach needs not just words but action”.

Although he closed hunting seasons in 2014 and 2015 after protected birds were shot, Dr Muscat has since taken a softer touch approach, saying such decisions should be taken by the Ornis committee and even suggesting that poaching fines were too harsh.

Last month, hunters’ federation FKNK said that its members were no longer cooperating with authorities or reporting illegalities and blamed the European Union for this state of affairs.

The FKNK statement came after at least three protected storks were shot down in one fell swoop. Fellow hunting federation St Hubert’s Hunters condemned the act and urged its members to abide by the law.

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