Lack of enforcement on illegal bird killing – BirdLife Malta

first_imgDuring an ORNIS Committee meeting just a week prior to the official opening of the Maltese Spring hunting season, BirdLife Malta criticised the lack of enforcement that worsens the situation that at this point has hunting seasons purposely designed to be smokescreens for the illegal killing of the red-listed Turtle Dove during Spring.Senior police officials were invited to give their input on the Police Force enforcement plans for this year, and in 2018 no individuals were prosecuted for killing Turtle Doves during the Spring hunting derogation period. BirdLife Malta had provided Police with concrete evidence of illegal hunting. One particular case involved an FKNK official who was filmed in Miżieb gunning down a Turtle Dove during last year’s Quail hunting season. Twelve months after the incident, not a single hunter has faced prosecution meaning that these same individuals would be eligible to hunt again this spring without facing any penalties.A Spring hunting derogation such as the one to open between the 10th and the 30th of April may only be justified to the European Union (EU) if it follows a strict number of criteria including that of enforcement. As a result Maltese authorities are obliged to field a ratio of 7 police officers per 1,000 hunters. With 7,647 applications for spring hunting licences, this makes this year’s requirement a total of 54 officers at any one time. While on paper these figures would be reported as a given, their effectiveness is very limited.The responsibility lies with the Government to ensure that the Police Force pursue illegal hunting cases on Turtle Doves. Despite a call from the ORNIS Committee to set up a proper wildlife crime unit within the Police Force to focus solely on environmental crime the Government has done nothing in this regard.Following the ORNIS Committee’s vote on the subject, in the past days, the Government has opted to open a season for Quail only, dismissing the Federation for Hunting and Conservation’s attempt to lift the moratorium on the IUCN red-listed Turtle Dove, yet allowing a hunting season between the 10th and the 30th April on the same FKNK’s request. The last two weeks of April are associated with a peak migration of Turtle Dove, while Common Quail are known to peak earlier in the month, leaving the onus of enforcement on police authorities to prevent the illegal killing of Turtle Doves during this period.Government’s reluctance to act on the matter follows a record year of illegally shot protected birds received by BirdLife Malta since 2013 with a total of 114 known illegally shot protected birds last year. Moreover, we have this year already received no less than 13 known illegally shot protected birds during the closed season. Ten of those were recovered since the start of Spring, seven of them confirmed shot just over the past week. These figures are a mere fraction of what really happens in our countryside. All this indicates that 2019 will be yet another record year for the illegal; killing of birds.BirdLife Malta is encouraging people to report any illegalities seen.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’” alt=”last_img” /> read more