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New laws on falconry have come into force

Photo: Kurt Law - Malta Falconers Club

Photo: Kurt Law - Malta Falconers Club

There is now a regulatory framework for the practice of falconry. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiThere is now a regulatory framework for the practice of falconry. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Falcon sightings could soon become more common as a new law governing falconry came into force recently, providing for the first time a regulatory framework for the practice of the activity.

The legislation will ensure that falconry – which involves activities related to the rearing, training and flying of birds of prey, including for the purposes of the hunting of quarry species – is carried out in line with national, EU and international law on the conservation of wild birds.

According to the provisions outlined in the law, which came into force last month, those practising falconry must be in possession of a licence granted by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU). To be eligible, the person must be older than 16, a member of a recognised falconry organisation and covered by a third party liability insurance.

Anyone applying for the licence must also sit for an examination set by the WBRU, which would include questions on the applicable regulations, the practical handling of the species, and the identification of birds.

The licence will be valid for five years.

The legislation has wonderfully managed to adapt to the requirements of falconers in Malta

The law also outlines when falconry can be practised: while the flying of falcons exclusively for training and flight displays may be practised all year round, the open season for the pursuit of quarry species is between June 1 and January 31, both days included, between two hours before sunrise and two hours after sunset.

Quarry species listed in Schedule II(a) of the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations may only be taken by means of falconry between September 1 and January 31 of the following year, both days included, while that of wild rabbit by means of falconry can only take place between June 1 and December 31 both days included. The law also stipulates that those in possession of a falconry licence must ensure the species are not in any danger.

When not practising falconry, the law states, no person shall house any falcon within an enclosure that does not provide protection from the natural elements and does not safeguard the physiological needs of the species.

The species cannot be transported in vehicles unless inside a travel box or tethered to a perch and wearing a hood. The law also states that no falcon can be killed or injured voluntarily and the falconer must ensure that any quarry species caught by the falcon are killed humanely and in accordance with the best applicable practice.

In a statement, the Malta Falconers Club (MFC) said it welcomed the publication of the law.

“The legislation has wonderfully managed to adapt to the requirements of falconers in Malta, including the necessary environmental constraints in this day and age,” the club said.

The club will be hosting an information session for its members in the coming days. 

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