Malta – 26. 08. 2020
CABS bird’s eye view reveals illegal bird trapping is underway on Malta
With the passage of the first seasonal flocks of migratory birds on Malta, the first cases of illegal trapping begin to emerge. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has reported eight illegal trapping installations for the capture of protected waterbirds to the police. The illegal clap-nets were identified and photographed during an aerial survey flight conducted last week, the organisation said.
Pictures released today by CABS show artificial ponds surrounded by large clap-nets and equipped with plastic decoy birds used to lure and trap protected curlews, sandpipers and other wading birds. The sites were spotted in the fields between Rabat and Dingli, the Misrah Strejnu area, St. Thomas Bay and near the Xrobb l-Ghagin nature park in Delimara (the same site of the recent juvenile flamingo killing). According to CABS all the installations are well hidden behind the labyrinth of rubble walls and trees and therefore cannot be readily seen from ground level.
Furthermore, CABS report that four of these eight sites have previously been found active and reported to the police in July 2019, August 2018 and August 2017. “The fact that in all these years, despite numerous reports and overwhelming evidence provided by CABS, the police have not been able to stop the poachers operating these notorious sites, is a damning indictment of the state of law enforcement on Malta. The lack of appropriate enforcement action is so evident that it is hard to believe that it is solely caused by the lack of resources or ability”, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said. "We suggest that the landowners should face vicarious liability and be forced to deconstruct the sites so they can never be used for illegal trapping again. This would not only save the lives of many birds but also put an end to rumours that certain poachers enjoy special political “protection” from the very top’, Hirschfeld added.
CABS also sharply criticised the government´s plans to re-introduce finch trapping under the guise of a 'scientific study'. "It’s clear the only reason the government is considering such a project is simply as an excuse to open the season and appease the trappers. Bird trappers are not scientists by any stretch of the imagination”, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said adding that she expects the European Commission to charge Malta for breaching EU-law, if such a season will be opened.
CABS members and Malta-based staff will continue to monitor bird migration and report hunting and trapping offences on Malta until November.