BirdLife Malta’s reaction to announcement of 2016 autumn hunting season

September 1, 2016 10:04 am

Now that the Government – through the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) – has formally announced the dates for this year’s autumn hunting season which opens today, BirdLife Malta reiterates its annual appeal for everyone to obey the laws that are enacted to protect birds in Malta and to report any illegality which may occur during this period.

September brings with it the start of an exciting time of year for all those who love birds and nature in Malta, with the autumn migration of raptors and various other birds. Every autumn, many migrating birds of prey crossing the Mediterranean Sea en route to Africa seek shelter on the Maltese Islands.

BirdLife Malta Raptor Camp participants spot a raptor (Photo by Robert Spanring)

The laws allow for the killing of 40 species of birds during five whole months of autumn, 12 of which also from the sea. The rest of the species are protected both by local and international law and BirdLife Malta expects everyone to adhere to these regulations.

BirdLife Malta remains critical of the fact that during the peak migration of raptors, hunting is allowed until 19:00. There was a time when this curfew was more effective to safeguard these birds since hunting was not allowed after 15:00. With respect to the bag limit and limited hunting season of Turtle Doves – recently certified as being in a vulnerable status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – BirdLife Malta is glad to see the aknowledgement of this issue but believes that the measures will not be effective. Turtle Doves hardly migrate after September with the peaks being in the first two weeks of September. The imposed bag limit of 7,000 Turtle Doves that can be killed, remains very doubtful on being controlled. Just like all the other bird limits be it of hunting or trapping, BirdLife Malta remains very sceptical on how much is truthfully reported and declared. Having said that, BirdLife Malta looks forward to work closely with WBRU and other stakeholders in Europe to push for proper conservation measures across Europe to save the Turtle Dove from continuing to decline.

With around 10,000 hunters, Malta has the highest density of hunters in the European Union. In view of this we urge the authorities, in particular the Malta Police Force and the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit to put the protection of birds and their habitats on top in their agenda. We expect the ALE to immediately take the necessary actions against those who are caught breaking regulations. We will remain willing to assist and collaborate with enforcement officers as we have always done. To this effect, BirdLife Malta will once again be organising its annual Raptor Camp to monitor illegal hunting and ensure that the birds that are traditionally targeted in Malta are protected.

Autumn migration attracts also young observers (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

BirdLife Malta would also hope to count on the public’s engagement to ensure that environmental law enforcement remains a priority during this year’s autumn hunting season. While hoping that illegalities continue to decrease, we urge anyone witnessing illegal hunting to immediately report the case to the police and to BirdLife Malta in order for immediate action to be taken.

Illegalities and cases of injured birds can be reported to BirdLife Malta by callling 2134 7645/6 during office hours or our hotline 7925 5697 (strictly only for wildlife crime emergencies) during evenings and weekends. Other reports can be sent by email to [email protected] or by leaving us a Facebook message on

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.