FKNK claims trapper assaulted in Gozo

Song Bird Association Malta

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A Gozitan trapper was assaulted by a couple who accused him of trapping illegally, the FKNK hunters’ federation said on Sunday.

The federation sought to pin a degree of blame on BirdLife Malta for “provocations,” but such insinuations were met with an angry response by the NGO, which nevertheless unreservedly condemned all forms of violence.

Trapper ‘was legally trapping according to research rules’

The EU has banned trapping for finches and other songbirds, but starting from this autumn, Malta is seeking to circumvent this ban by allowing finch trapping for “research” purposes. The scientific justification of such a practice, through which trapped finches should eventually be released and no bird ringing will take place, has been put in question, and BirdLife has already confirmed its intention to challenge the decision in court.

The FKNK said that the trapper in question was an FKNK member who was “trapping legally according to the research rules,” when he was accosted by a foreign couple who accused him of trapping illegally. The federation did not specify when the incident took place.

“Instead of reporting the case to the police, the foreign man pushed the trapper into the ground, and then leapt on him and started punching him,” the FKNK said. “This was not enough. While the trapper was lying dazed on the floor, the foreigner asked his wife to restrain his legs so he could keep punching his face,” the federation maintained.

It said that the assault was only stopped by a nearby hunter, and that the trapper subsequently went to hospital and filed a police report.

 ‘A drop in the ocean’

In a reaction, BirdLife Malta said that it condemned all forms of violence “even when this violence or alleged violence takes place against hunters and trappers.” But it was not impressed by the FKNK’s suggestion that it was provoking such incidents.

“Any incident, however, is a drop in the ocean when compared to years of abuse, violence, intimidation and hate speech coming from many members of the hunting and trapping lobby and directed to environmentalists and BirdLife Malta staff, volunteers and members together with members of other environmental organisations,” the NGO maintained.

It called on the authorities to enforce the law in all circumstances, “both laws which regard bird protection and illegal hunting and trapping, and also in all other acts of violence.”