The Government does not have the moral value or strength to take an action to safeguard birds.
In a press statement issued as a response to BirdLife Malta’s request to the Prime Minister to suspend the autumn hunting season the Parliamentary Secretariat for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights replied that it is the Ornis Committee which has the prerogative to suspend or change the parameters of any hunting season.
Replying to this statement, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “In 2014, when similar birds were targeted and killed by hunters the Government did what was right and suspended the autumn hunting season. (See link below for Press Release 142095, issued on September 20th, 2014)
What has changed from 2014 till now? The possibility is that the will of the Government to do what is right and protect birds from being illegally shot is all that has changed. I say this because the law clearly states that:
‘The Minister may, by means of notice in the Gazette, revise the parameters of the hunting season in any given year at any time on the basis of relevant latest scientific advice concerning conservation status and maintenance of the population of bird species at satisfactory level, or any other reason which the Minister deems to be of sufficient gravity.’ (Subregulation (5) of Regulation 19 of the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations – see link below)
But now, the Government through his Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights is stating that the killing of two Black Storks, a Honey Buzzard and another six protected birds in the span of three days is not of sufficient gravity. This is unacceptable. Does the Government realise that these illegalities have been the worst in the past recent years? We genuinely and strongly oppose this status quo decision and ask the Prime Minister to take this issue in his hands and do the right thing by immediately declaring a suspension of the hunting season.”
Read the Maltese version of the press release here. The 2014 press release which shows how the Government had back then taken a different line of action can be found here. You can also read how the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations clearly state that the Minister may close the season for any reason which he deems to be of sufficient gravity, here.