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Press release - Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Massive bird trapping inside NATURA 2000 sites
Newly-built trapping sites operate despite legislation

Malta. Bird trappers have literally carpeted large areas of protected coastline habitats with hundreds of trapping sites, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said today. Aerial surveys conducted by the organisation resulted so far in the count of a minimum of 290 active bird trapping installations within NATURA 2000 protected zones on Malta and Gozo. On their webpage and on Facebook CABS have published aerial pictures which furnish proof of the high density of active clap nets as well as destruction of protected vegetation inside NATURA 2000 sites near Zurrieq and Hal Far. Counts of trapping sites in other protected landscapes, such as garrigue are still being calculated, as well as sites with too many nets and sites with nets larger than the allowed size.

Aerial view of the density of clap nets at Natura 2000 sites near Hal FarAerial view of the density of clap nets at Natura 2000 sites near Hal FarCABS accused the government of taking the Maltese public and the European Commision for a ride by promising "limited conditions" on the one hand and allowing uncontrollable mass-trapping of birds inside the core areas for nature protection on Malta on the other. It said that despite a clear legal ban several trapping sites have recently been built whithin and outside protected Natura 2000 zones. "We have provided the Wild Bird Regulation Unit with the location of a total of 44 active trapping sites which all seem to have been built in the last 2 years, making them illegal. It´s now up to the government to ensure that the trappers will be punished and that any licences - if issued by mistake - will be revoked", CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said. According to the new Legal Notice on the live-capturing of birds a trapping site will only be accepted if the live-capturing station(s) are visible on aerial photos dated up to 2012, or registered with the Commissioner of Police by the end of December 2012. According to information provided by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) a total of 7,018 trapping sites have been registred for this year´s trapping season.

Active trapping sites along the coast at ZurrieqActive trapping sites along the coast at ZurrieqIn at least one case a trapper was given a permit for a new site at Armier from the authorities. "When comparing pictures from our aerial survey with satellite images we learned that this site must be illegal as it did not exist before 2013. We called the police but when the officers checked the site the trapper presented them a brand-new license", Fiona Burrows said. CABS has asked the WBRU to revoke the licence with immediate effect. CABS also reported that a trapper was photographed when he burned down protected garrigue to create a new trapping site close to Popeye Village. However the Police declared that the trapping site was legal and permitted despite not being visible on aerial photos prior to 2013. In another case from Gozo the government already confirmed that a newly built trapping site at the coast close to Dwejra Bird Sanctuary was illegal and will be dismantled soon. CABS members also documented the widespread use of illegal bird callers for trapping. "We have recorded a total of 28 incidents on video. The machines we found were imitating finches, Song Thrush, Golden Plover, Dotterel and Skylark", Miss Burrows reports.

CABS said that first pictures from the aerial survey as well as an interim report about the trapping situation on Malta have been sent to the European Commission last week. According to CABS a senior official of the EC´s DG Environment - which is at the moment preparing legal action against Malta over the comeback of finch trapping - already confirmed that his unit will look carefully into the report made by CABS.

Contact for photographic and video material and other information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, Telephone +49 1794803805 or Email to