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Protected birds shot; 'problem far from over'

The stilt recovered from St Thomas Bay was diagnosed by the vet as suffering from a broken right and a chest wound. Photo: BLM

The stilt recovered from St Thomas Bay was diagnosed by the vet as suffering from a broken right and a chest wound. Photo: BLM

BirdLife Malta collected two protected birds shot in the last few days of the spring hunting season, proving that the problem was "far from over".

A protected bird (roller) was yesterday collected dead from a person who found it while walking in fields in Xagħra, Gozo. In the evening, a black-winged stilt was retrieved from St Thomas Bay in Marsascala suffering from shotgun injuries.

This species has in recent years bred successfully in Malta at both nature reserves in Għadira and Simar. These two colourful birds were targeted to end up as trophies in hunters’ collections, BLM said. 

“This is the result of the lack of action from the government to take a stance in light of the first illegalities earlier in the spring hunting season. It is clear that the zero tolerance attitude seen last year from the government was only a gimmick,” said BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana.

The moment the fear factor is removed, we go back to illegal killing

“With the fear of having an early closure of the season dwindling away, the illegalities increased.”

BirdLife said that this proves how much the problem of illegal hunting in Malta is far from solved and premature comments of a positive nature normally end being abused of.

“We keep on being proven right over and over again that with open seasons we see more illegalities; that the illegalities in Malta will go rampant the moment the pressure is weakened; and that it is fear of closure of the season, rather than goodwill that is keeping the illegalities under check. The moment the fear factor is removed, we go back to illegal killing,” Mr Sultana insisted.

While the Wild Birds Regulation Unit and Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes pride themselves with increasing hefty fines for illegalities, these incidents keep happening under their watch.

These two species, afforded the highest protection under the local wild bird regulations, would get a person fined up to €5,000 if caught hunting them.

Such fines seem however to be of little hindrance when enforcement is not adequate, BLM said. 

This Roller was diagnosed by a vet as having died of shotgun injury. Injuries included a fractured wing and four lead pellets in head, chest and wings.This Roller was diagnosed by a vet as having died of shotgun injury. Injuries included a fractured wing and four lead pellets in head, chest and wings.

 

 

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