FKNK condemns illegal hunting, reacts to call to close hunting season

FKNK condemns illegal hunting, reacts to call to close hunting season

The hunters' federation (FKNK) said this evening that it condemned all illegal hunting and would never stand by anyone who performed such acts, but closing the hunting season because of abuse would amount to unjustified collective punishment.

The federation was reacting to a call by the German-based committee CABS which yesterday called for the hunting season to be closed after its activists in Malta said "hundreds" of birds of prey were shot down on Saturday morning. The FKNK said no solid evidence of this had been produced.

The FKNK said thousands of birds of prey had in fact been observed on Friday evening, when no illegal hunting was reported, which birds in turn roosted in some wooded areas

"The Federation for Hunting & Conservation – Malta as always condemns all means of illegal killing of wild birds, and will never stand by anyone who performs such acts. Furthermore the FKNK repeats that it will disqualify any member who is convicted of any serious crime such as is being alleged by CABS," the federation said. "

The federation insisted, however, that collective punishment was not the way forward, especially when no solid evidence of “hundreds” of birds being illegally shot was produced.

"On the 10th of May 2007, the Malta Government imposed such a collective punishment by abruptly and unjustly closing the hunting season because it alleged that a “massacre” of birds of prey by hunters took place the day before. To date, 500 days later, not a single shred of evidence has been brought to light, nor has a single person been arraigned in court as a result of the “massacre”.

The FKNK said those "very few untouchables" who persisted in illegal doings of the sort would not stop until the protection they may enjoy, from any quarter, was lifted for good.

"For the last three consecutive years, the Malta Ornis Committee had recommended that hunting should NOT be banned during the last fortnight of September, citing as one prime reason that those few who still want to shoot birds of prey that come to roost in the evenings will do so in the early hours of the following morning. However, both last year and this September, Government seemed more inclined to accommodate CABS and let them freely roam the Maltese countryside and so closed the season on both occasions."

The FKNK said that during a meeting that its officials had last week with top police officers, the police informed FKNK that it was due to the involvement and cooperation of FKNK alone, that for a good number of years now, Buskett gardens had been rid of any illegal shooting.

Furthermore, any foreigner or local may be free to roam the Maltese countryside, even play policeman and report any illegal sightings; however the right of enforcement rested on the Police corps alone.

The federation said that out of the odd 260 reports of illegal hunting that BirdLife alleged to have received, the police to-date had only arraigned seven persons with hunting related offences, out of which only three referred to illegal hunting.

The FKNK thanked the police for their service and promised further cooperation.

It also warned that it would launch legal proceedings against two CABS activists primarily, for trespassing.

It would also sue the organisation as a whole including CABS prime motivator, David Conlin (also a Life member of both BirdLife Malta and RSPB) who, the FKNK said, has been recorded as stating that CABS next plan was to completely ban hunting and trapping activities from the Maltese islands and that they meant to do this by “keeping up the pressure (on the Maltese) relentlessly”.

The FKNK said it was also compiling a report to the EU Commission.

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