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PRESS RELEASE 6 April 2016

Illegal spring trapping: 41 trapping sites found
13 poachers will be brought to trial - new CABS video

Police officer with seized trapping paraphernaliaPolice officer with seized trapping paraphernaliaMalta. In the last three weeks volunteers of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have been monitoring the Maltese and Gozitan countryside persuing all leads of illegal bird trapping. A total of 41 illegal trapping sites were found, all of them freshly cleared and equipped with large clap nets. To ensure that the persons using these nets can be prosecuted CABS deployed several surveillance teams who monitored the sites for any illegal activity. As a result 13 bird trappers were caught red-handed by the police or were later identified on the basis of photos and videos taken by the birdwatchers. Bird trapping paraphernalia worth several thousand Euros as well as about 30 live Linnets and Greenfinches were been confiscated by the authorities.

CABS said that the priority area of illegal trapping was the island of Gozo with a total of 10 expected prosecutions. “We concentrated on Gozo because the lack of ALE presence there has lead to a significant increase of illegal bird trapping”, said CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows. Three other songbird trappers have been apprehended on Malta, one of them was trapping finches inside the hunting reserve in Mizieb. The other poachers were filmed below the Dingli cliffs and at Migra l-Ferha.

A part of the footage filmed by the CABS teams has been uploaded on YouTube and can be watched here ...

Seized Linnets and GreenfinchesSeized Linnets and GreenfinchesOn 18 March a CABS team also found a large vertical mistnet which was stretched over a small artificial pond opposite to the ferry terminal in Mgarr (Gozo). After the volunteers managed to film a person at the site they informed the police who dismantled the trap and will press charges against the owner. According to CABS the trapping site was equipped with plastic duck decoys. Other active trapping sites on Gozo were found in the areas of San Lawrence, Sannat, Ta´ Cenc, Xaghra and Xlendi. All of them were targeting finches with either live decoys or electronic bird callers.

The NGO said that it has provided the police with the locations of the 28 additional trapping sites where nets have been spotted for further investigations. Mrs Burrows proposed that the government should implement a ban on all trapping sites found active outside the open season, regardless of who uses it, and exclude those sites from the official licensing system in autumn.

CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld added that the police always responded to their reports and in most of the cases the officers arrived within 40 minutes. He added that in some cases the authorities obviously refrained from conducting further inspections of cages and aviaries at the residences of the trappers. “It is quite safe to assume that these poachers have more illegal birds in their possession than those found at the trapping site on the day of our report. Immediate inspections of all aviaries of those caught poaching red-handed should become a standard procedure”, Hirschfeld said.