Bird trade in Malta
Wild birds are big business in Malta. In particular, goldfinches, linnets and hawfinches are coveted cage birds for which supposed bird lovers are willing to pay good prices. Until 2017, trapping for finches with nets was still permitted, but trading birds taken from the wild has long been illegal. Today, bird trapping continues illegally in Malta - hundreds of trapping sites are still active and the black market is flourishing as ever. In Malta's capital, Valletta, a large bird market takes place every Sunday morning, where the "feathered goods" change hands on a grand scale.
The local bird trappers are hardly able to meet the great demand - and the few successful breeders certainly cannot. Malta's pet traders are therefore increasingly resorting to finches caught illegally in southern Italy and smuggled into the country by boat.
Live decoys are another source of money that some bird trappers have tapped into. When hunting for quails, turtle doves, song thrushes and golden plovers, the use of decoys is permitted, some may be caught legally with exemptions. The sale of the birds is prohibited, only captive bred decoys are allowed on the market. And yet you can always find freshly caught golden plovers on internet portals.