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Lower fines for minor hunting illegalities

But tough stand on serious ones

The government is willing to negotiate a downscaling of penalties for minor hunting offences but will continue to take a tough stand on serious infringements, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Government sources said meetings had already been held with both the hunters’ federation, FKNK, and conservationists BirdLife to discuss a review of “draconian” hunting penalties.

Infringement fines were increased by the government in 2014 after a series of incidents involving the shooting of protected birds

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said during the election campaign the consequences of hunting infringements were too harsh and the time had come for a position that was more rational.

READ: Animal Rights junior minister discussed lower fines with hunters on Facebook

Infringement fines were increased by the government in 2014 after a series of incidents involving the shooting of protected birds. A person convicted of shooting or trapping protected species now faces a €5,000 fine and a maximum of one year in prison. The fine can rise to €10,000 in the case of a second conviction.

Former Ornis Committee chairman Mark Anthony Falzon had agreed that the introduction of prison sentences for hunting contraventions was a step too far.

Shooting rare or protected species will be more harshly viewed. Photo: Aron TantiShooting rare or protected species will be more harshly viewed. Photo: Aron Tanti

Sources said yesterday the government was willing to introduce lower fines for minor offences, such as slightly exceeding the bagging quota or being caught hunting soon after the season would have closed.

“The penalties in place for such infringements, which are accepted as being rather minor breaches of the law, are being looked at as something we can revise downwards,” the sources said.

However, they noted, the government appeared to be less inclined to take a softer stand when it came to hunters shooting rare and protected birds, for example.

Negotiations are still ongoing and the matter is yet to be discussed by Cabinet.

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