Malta – 28. 03. 2018
Illegal bird trapping up by 35% - 13 trappers caught red handed
Activists accuse government of giving poachers free reign to trap during the closed season
Valletta. Poor enforcement has lead to significant increase of illegal bird trapping in spring, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said.
Even though the trapping season is closed in spring an aerial survey conducted this month revealed more than 180 active trapping sites on Malta and Gozo, the organisation said. „Compared to 2017, when 133 active sites were counted in a similar survey, this equates to an increase of about 35 per cent in just one year“, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.
CABS criticised that the observed increase is a direct consequence of the governments' total failure or refusal to set up an effective and proactive enforcement system during the closed season. "With enough resources and clear instructions from above, the police could easily arrest dozens of trappers per day. Instead it seems that the responsible persons within the government have decided to look the other way and give the poachers free reign to trap birds during the closed season“, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld stated.
To fill the enforcement gap CABS has deployed a team which has monitored selected sites with video cameras and telescopes during the last 10 days. "As soon as enough evidence was collected we called in the police who at least managed to catch 13 illegal trappers red-handed“, Fiona Burrows said adding ALE officers on Malta were ordered not to confiscate live decoys used despite being key pieces of evidence. In contrast to their collegues from the main island police officers on Gozo, however, consequently seized all nets and several live decoys including 9 Linnets, 4 Greenfinches, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Serins and 1 Hawfinch. The eNGO added that the government´s Wild Birds Regulation Unit (Wbru) have been consistently unreachable by phone when assistance has been needed.
CABS announced that it will continue its surveillance activity on Malta and Gozo until the end of April. The European Commission and the European Court of Justice, which is expected to rule about the future of finch trapping on Malta soon, will be informed about all results of the operation including the massive lack of proactive enforcement observed by the CABS activists.
Contact for photos, video footage and more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, fon +0049 179 480 3805 or Email to CABS@komitee.de