Malta – 21. 10. 2020
Finch trapping: chaos and anarchy instead of strict supervision
17 poachers may walk free as courts fail to hear their cases in due time.
Malta. An aerial survey flight conducted by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) last weekend has revealed that 69 bird trappers already had their sites active with nets out, days before the official opening of the trapping season yesterday. A comparison of the site locations with the government´s list of registered trapping stations for Golden Plover and Song Thrush yielded that 53 of these sites are not listed, suggesting that they are being used to trap other species such as finches or protected waders. “We contacted the Wild Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) on nine occasions by phone to find out about the number of finch ‘research stations’ and what their locations were but no call was answered. No legal notice, GPS locations or regulations have been published by the WBRU. On calling the police we were baffled to hear that also the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) has no information about locations of sites participating in the finch research study”, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said. She added: “Instead of a strict supervision we have a situation of total anarchy where even the police have no clue which rules apply, and which sites are being used for the study and which sites are being operated illegally”.
CABS criticised Prime Minister Robert Abela and Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri for creating and using the concept of a scientific study as a smokescreen to bypass the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which has already convicted Malta for breaching EU law by allowing finch trapping in the years 2014 to 2017. “It is a shame that the government continues to disrespect the decision of the ECJ and it is a scandal that they claim to do this in the name of science whereas in fact their only motivation is pure partisanship and client politics”, CABS biologist and Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said. He continued saying that “the so-called study has zero scientific value but at the same time enables finch trappers to pursue their selfish passion and makes it impossible for the police to uncover abuse”.
CABS also confirmed reports in local media that court delays could see people facing trapping or hunting crime allegations go unpunished if their cases become time barred after a certain time. “At the moment we have 16 cases involving 17 poachers which will soon reach or already have reached the time limit”, Fiona Burrows stated. All cases were reported by CABS between April 2017 and April 2018 and have officially been charged by the police. The charges include trapping of protected species, trapping out of season, hunting during the closed season as well as the use of illegally modified firearms and electronic bird-calling machines.
The picture attached to this PR shows a bird trapper preparing his clap net for the next catch (CABS archive pic taken on Gozo)