Watch: Birdlife to send Spring hunting illegalities to the EC

Results from this year’s spring hunting season to be sent to the European Commission prove derogation was just a smokescreen allowing illegal hunting of vulnerable Turtle-doves, said Birdlife Malta in a statement issued on Friday.

The NGO gave details of the illegalities recorded during this Spring hunting season;

  • Over 167 illegalities observed by an average of two BirdLife Malta teams during the three-week season
  • Total of 50 illegally shot protected birds recovered, 18 of which were turtle-doves
  • Sharp increase compared to 12 in 2019 and more than the last three spring hunting seasons put together

Birdlife Malta has also noticed that 65% of active hunters observed hunting turtle-doves, with only 21% seen genuinely hunting for Quail and Police presence noticed only in 11% of the hunting hotspots visited

Also, According to WBRU statistics, 86% of licence-holders did not declare catching a single Quail despite being allowed three weeks to do so.

These results being released by BirdLife Malta summarising the highlights of the 2020 spring hunting season which ran between the 10th and 30th of April will now be sent to the European Commission.

The NGO said that limitations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis this year did not permit volunteers from across Europe to join BirdLife Malta’s annual Spring Watch camp in overseeing the season’s illegalities.

“The Government deliberately chose the season dates aware of the Quail hunting season coinciding with the peak migration of turtle-dove, while also aware that police had numerical and tactical difficulties in apprehending hunters targeting turtle-doves” – stated Birdlife Malta.

It also mentioned how the assistance to enforcement authorities from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) remained absent throughout the season. The WRBU was illegally placed under the Ministry for Gozo reiterated the NGO.

Turtle-dove hunting hotspots such as Miżieb and Aħrax were heavily frequented by hunters during this period and it is unknown whether police carried out roadblocks successfully in such areas despite BirdLife Malta’s request to do so.

BirdLife Malta said it can confirm that hunting holidays in Gozo for Maltese hunters were also permitted during the season, with hunters allowed to freely travel to Gozo for this purpose.

A total of 50 illegally shot protected birds were recovered this year, out of which the largest number, 18, were turtle-doves – more than four times the birds collected last year, 12, and more birds than the last three spring hunting seasons put together, 45, explained Birdlife.

Birdlife Malta concluded its statement saying that the results published today will be formally reported to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment and reiterated its position that spring hunting for Turtle-dove has no future in Malta and the European Union (EU), and the Maltese Government should be held accountable for letting this happen.