Printer-friendly version

Statement by Heinz Schwarze, President of CABS


Press conference Xemxija, 22.09.2007

In many member states of the European Union, at considerable financial cost and personal commitment by full-time workers and volunteers, we protect endangered bird species. All this work will be for nothing if they are shot down over Malta during migration.

Shot Turtledove: almost every bird migrating over Malta is killed by huntersShot Turtledove: almost every bird migrating over Malta is killed by huntersWe are here on Malta not to attack the hunters, but rather to remind the people here that the shooting of raptors and other endangered species is forbidden throughout the European Community. We have been considerably assisted in our work by the valuable support provided by the International Animal Rescue Malta and Nature Trust. Parallel operations by BirdLife Malta have also played a significant role in our planning.

The overall situation has however been aggravated by the inflammatory comments by the President of the FKNK, Mr Lino Farrugia at his recent press conference. Following these statements by him, we have noticed a sharp increase in aggressive behaviour by the hunters towards our members. This included stone throwing, verbal abuse, exposure of backsides to male and female team members and, in extreme cases, direct threat with a weapon.These bullying tactics have only served to discredit the motives and reputation of the FKNK.

In the period 14th to 21st September, in addition to numerous offences against the hunting laws, we witnessed and recorded 6 cases where birds of prey were shot down. In 12 cases, our teams observed hunters shooting at protected raptors but they fortunately missed. We have filed official complaints with the police against known and unknown persons in all instances.

Yesterday morning at 7.00 am on we observed the shooting down of a Booted Eagle over the Dwejra Lines. We were fortunately able to record this incident on video film. The police were alerted immediately and were rapidly on the scene. In addition, shots were fired by hunters on many occasions after the afternoon curfew, electronic bird lures were activated and hunting was continued at night using powerful searchlights.

Our internet diary at www.komitee.de contains full details of all incidents.

Only some 4 % of the Maltese population are hunters. It is therefore even more unbelievable and frightening to establish that this minority is capable of inflicting such immense damage to Malta’s image abroad. I must emphasise that our cooperation with the Maltese environmental police ALE is first class. On the other hand, their personnel cover is clearly inadequate for the task. We appeal for a substantial increase in officers on the ground as soon as possible.

We greet the government’s decision to curtail spring hunting in 2007 and urge that this policy be reinforced by an absolute ban on spring hunting in future in order to finally conform with European Community legislation. The present curfew on shooting during the autumn arrival of migrant birds in late afternoon is also a positive step and we urge that it be extended indefinitely.

Hunter on MaltaHunter on MaltaOur observations have led us to the conclusion that hunting of ALL species occuring on Malta endangers the eventual survival of their populations. In addition, the pursuit of huntable species is at best non-selective and at worst only an alibi to shoot everything that flies. The correlation between the number of raptors arriving in the evening and the number of shots and hunters you see and hear the next morning is patently clear. We therefore request that the Prime Minister takes over responsibility and closes the hunting season immediately.

It is sad, but symtomatic of the disease that affects nearly all of the hunters that we have seen during our operations, that on our final day in the field an elegant falcon - a Hobby - was shot down in front of the eyes of one of our teams. Other teams reported large scale shooting at the large numbers of birds of prey that flew over the island today. This blatant and arrogant disregared of the law must not be ignored by those responsible and we will be demanding TODAY from the Maltese Government that the hunting season is ended immediately.

Hunting of birds on Malta is unsustainable – there is no other credible conclusion.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that the birds migrating over Malta are a common European natural heritage for all citizens of our enlarged community. We are all honour bound to protect and conserve this valuable gift of nature.