Malta – 30. 04. 2020
Malta´s enforcement system not designed to convict poachers
Government urged to ban hunting in Mizieb and L-Aħrax woodlands
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) today said that this spring the lack of hunting supervision from the authorities was self-evident again, against the backdrop of dozens of confirmed cases of illegalities, such as the shooting and trapping of protected species, the widespread use of illegal electronic lures or hunting during closed hours. It said the level of illegalities confirmed by CABS is actually higher than spring 2019, despite having just one local team and no international volunteers.
Commenting on the claim from Home Affairs Minister, Byron Camilleri that "inspections were at the same levels as 2019" CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld confirmed that the spot-checks of hunters conducted by the ALE are only suitable to verify if a person is in possession of a valid license or if his firearm is registered. ”The problem is that spot-checks are absolutely useless if the aim is to catch and convict hunters or trappers who target protected species. These poachers can only be convicted with proactive and intelligence-led investigations conducted by specially trained and dedicated officers who - in stark contrast to the ALE - have sufficient resources and the full backing of their superiors and the political decisionmakers”. If this would be the case on Malta, Hirschfeld added, the country would see a significant increase in convictions followed by a decrease in the number of protected birds being killed.
CABS underlined that its volunteers and staff working on Malta use very different investigation methods than the police. “Since March one single CABS team reported and documented probably more cases of illegal bird trapping and hunting of protected species than the whole Malta Police Force in the same period”, Hirschfeld said. The organisation stressed that most of the individual police officers responding to their reports did their best and successfully apprehended and identified many suspects. “What we are criticising is the lack of proactive police investigations and covert operations aimed at convicting as many poachers as possible”. CABS also said that it supports the call on Prime Minister Robert Abela to not hand over the responsibility for Mizieb and L-Aħrax woodlands to the hunter´s federation FKNK. “These small forests - together with Buskett Gardens – are Malta´s most important roosting sites for a large number of migrating birds such as Honey Buzzards, Nightjars, falcons, Turtle Doves and other species which roost in trees”, CABS president Heinz Schwarze said. “In recent weeks and years Mizieb and L-Aħrax have been the scene of massive, unsustainable overhunting, with hundreds of confirmed cases of poaching, intimidation from hunters towards members of the public, and the deposition of tons of toxic lead pellets into the environment. Instead of rewarding the hunters for their selfish and unacceptable behaviour the government should give them the red card and declare the areas as bird sanctuaries where all hunting should be forbidden”. The ornithologist continued that handing over responsibility to the FKNK would be proof that the government once again is sacrificing the environment for short-term political benefit. CABS is proposing that the areas should be administered by a local body or NGO who has no interest in use and exploitation and is able to develop them into nature parks which can be enjoyed by everyone.
Contact for more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, +49 1794803805 or Email to CABS@komitee.de, the picture attached to this PR shows a dead Turtle Dove, vicitim of illegal spring hunting on Malta.