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Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) - PRESS RELEASE - 31 October 2019

CABS report 38 cases of poaching within 10 days
Video shows trappers targeting protected finches

Live Linnet decoy confiscated by the policeLive Linnet decoy confiscated by the policeMalta. In the last 10 days teams of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have uncovered large scale and widespread illegal trapping of protected songbirds on the coasts of Malta and Gozo. A total of 18 cases were reported to the police who confiscated 15 sets of clap nets and approximately 50 live birds. Five trappers were caught red-handed by the police and will be taken to court in due course. Another 13 poachers ran off when they saw the police arriving, but CABS is optimistic that they will be subsequently identified. "We have provided the police with our footage which shows their faces and, in some cases, also the vehicle registrations of their cars ", said CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows.

A video of the operation uploaded by CABS on Facebook today shows surveillance footage of trapping sites in Hal-Far, Mgarr, Xlendi, Qrendi, Dingli, L´Ahrax and Sannat. The video can be watched here.

“Although 15 nets have been seized by the police, in three other incidents the nets were removed by the trappers before fleeing the scene. Live decoy birds were only seized when trapper abandoned them or if there was no visible ring. Unfortunately there was no bird expert or enforcement officer available from the Wild Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) able to conduct proper and thorough checks of the ringed birds.” Burrows added.

Trapping sites on rooftop of Cottonera LineTrapping sites on rooftop of Cottonera LineFurthermore, 20 additional finch trapping sites which have been confirmed as recently active from both an aerial survey and field investigations have been reported to the police for further investigation. These also include three trapping sites installed on the rooftop of the historical Cottonera Lines in Vittoriosa (see photo).

In one recent incident at Hal Far, after realising that he was being watched, a poacher exposed himself to the team and later tried to run a CABS member over with his car in front of the police. There have also been several incidents of intimidation and threats made towards teams. A group of tourists were even chased by bird trappers on Dingli Cliffs who wrongly suspected them to be CABS members.

Finch trapping is a controversial practice on Malta which was declared illegal by the EU courts last year. Following this verdict Malta has recently changed its legislation and banned finch trapping all year around. But according to CABS the government does not seem to be very eager to enforce the new rules. “If our teams can find 38 illegal sites in only 10 days this shows that the total ban only exists on paper”, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said adding that Malta desperately needs an experienced, professional Wildlife Crime Unit to cope with its bird poaching problems.

Contact for more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, +49 1794803805 or Email to CABS@komitee.de,