Postpone autumn hunting season to mid-October, activists say

Government: Season opens on September 1

The opening of the autumn hunting season should be postponed by six weeks to reduce the risk of protected species such as storks being shot down, BirdLife said on Thursday.

The request, which is being endorsed by five other environmental NGOs, was made in a letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana told a news conference that the number of reported protected birds shot dead this year could reach the highest number since 2012.

READ: Hunting season opens on Saturday

So far, the provisional figure for 2018 had already reached 44, as compared to 27 in the corresponding period last year.

He said such figures were very conservative as there were other cases which either went unreported or the cause of death was difficult to ascertain.

“This is not only unacceptable, but such data flies in the face of the prime minister’s pledge that illegalities will not be tolerated,” Mr Sultana said.

He said BirdLife was therefore requesting a shifting of the autumn hunting season from September 1 to October 15, lasting until the end of January. 

This is not a form of collective punishment against hunters but the only means to prevent illegalities.

“This is not a form of collective punishment against hunters but the only means to prevent illegalities on species like storks which migrate during September,” he said.

The NGO is also calling on the government to set up a wild life crime unit.

Mr Sultana noted that such a proposal had received the unanimous backing of Ornis, and consequently government should heed this advice.

This unit should have dedicated officers focused exclusively on such offences, and it should not just be a re-branding the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit, he said. 

Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, Nature Trust-FEE, Din l-Art Ħelwa, fish4tomorrow and Sharklab-Malta are endorsing the request for the postponement of the autumn hunting season. 

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