BirdLife upset by proposal to reduce hunting penalties
Wants public consultation before any changes made
Changes to hunting penalties should go through a public consultation before any final decision is taken, conservationists BirdLife Malta said.
The NGO was reacting to a report in the Times of Malta newspaper yesterday about how the government was willing to discuss downscaling fines for what it deemed to be minor hunting offences.
It also wanted to retain a tough stand on more serious infringements. BirdLife said it was satisfied to see the government was not willing to reduce penalties for those who hunted protected birds.
This, the NGO said, should be clearly and officially stated by the government to send out a message that “hunting of protected birds is not tolerated”.
The environmentalists had concerns, however, over reducing fines for those that hunted above the bagging quota or hunted outside the hunting season – issues that government sources said were currently being discussed.
“These two examples are not to be tolerated, as anyone hunting above the quota or else hunting outside the hunting season is deliberately doing this in breach of the privilege given to hunters.
“With hunting being permitted for five months in autumn, how can one justify that hunters go out to hunt over and above the allowed days?” BirdLife said.
Infringement fines were increased by the government in 2014 after a series of incidents that involved shooting protected birds. A person convicted of shooting or trapping protected species now faces a €5,000 fine and one year in jail.
The fine can rise to €10,000 in case of a second conviction.
Former Ornis committee chairman Mark Anthony Falzon has agreed that illegal hunting should be deterred but also said the introduction of prison sentences for hunting contraventions was “a step too far”. BirdLife said yesterday that the Ornis committee, which the government normally consults on hunting matters, should be asked for its position on any review of the penalties.
It said the police, as a major stakeholder, should also be asked for their feedback.