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Committee Against Bird Slaughter - CABS
Press release - Tuesday, 22 April 2014

72 illegal bird callers found on Malta – CABS

Hunters filmed shooting more than the bag limit, not sending SMS

2 Hunters near Buskett - each with 3 shot birds (bag limit: 2 birds per season!)2 Hunters near Buskett - each with 3 shot birds (bag limit: 2 birds per season!)Hunters have installed an estimated three-figure number of illegal electronic lures for Quail and protected waders in the Maltese countryside, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said today. During the last 4 nights volunteers of the organisation conducted spot checks in all 5 statistical districts of Malta. According to CABS a total of 72 devices were located in Ramla Bay, Red Tower, Selmun Palace, Il-Maghtab, Ta´ San Pietru, Ta´ Benniena, Ta Qali, San Martin, Ta´ Mrejnu, Wardija, Golden Bay, Mgarr, Gneina Bay, Ta` Santi, Victoria Lines, Tal-Abatija, Dwejra Lines, Fomm Ir Rih, Wied Rini Radio Station, Rdum Tal-Vigarju, Mtahleb, Fiddien, Dingli Cliffs, Buskett, Tal Virtu, Gebel Cantar, Fawwara, Has Saptan, Zurrieq, Ghar Lapsi, Hal-Farrug, Gudja and the Delimara peninsula.

“As our survey only covered a small part of the island the number of callers heard by our teams is only a small percentage of the true figure. A realistic guess would be in the low hundreds”, CABS Operations Officer Axel Hirschfeld concluded. CABS said that the police were called several times but did not manage to confiscate a single device. “The fact that such a large-scale illegality goes unpunished is absolutely irreconcilable with any zero tolerance policy or strict supervision which is one of the conditions of the derogation for spring hunting”. According to article 8 of the European Birds Directive the use of bird callers is regarded as a method used for the illegal mass killing of birds. “The problem is that the ALE is not on duty before 5am and the local police do not seem to be willing or able to deal with the situation”, CABS noted. The NGO said that it will nevertheless provide the ALE with a detailed map of locations from where the bird callers can be heard.

According to CABS each unit is composed of a loudspeaker, a large battery for power supply, a bird caller which imitates the courtship songs of the Quail and a timer which activates the pre-recorded bird calls in the night. “To protect the devices from being stolen or confiscated by the police the hunters have locked them in metal boxes or used oil barrels which have been embedded or filled with concrete or large boulders”, CABS explained. “Normally the callers start to sing around midnight and stop an hour or two before sunrise”. The reason why they are only active in the night is simple: Quails only migrate at night. “If a hunter uses a bird caller he can be sure that the Quails in the surroundings are attracted to his hunting ground whereas his hunting neighbour either comes away empty-handed or opts to use an artificial lure himself. It is a domino effect“

CABS also reported that on Saturday morning one of its teams managed to film two hunters who shot three Quails each close to Buskett Gardens thus shooting more than the bag limit of two birds per hunter and day. Both men also failed to report their catch by SMS as required and continued hunting after they shot three birds each. They were stopped by the ALE who took their particulars and instituted proceedings against the two men.

Contact for photographic and video material and other information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, Telephone +356 99554442 or Email: