No justification for a spring hunting season

February 2, 2017 1:03 pm

BirdLife Malta insists that there is no justification for a spring hunting season to be declared.

Following yesterday’s recommendation by the Ornis Committee to the Government to open a three-week spring hunting season for Quail between the 25th of March  and the 14th of April (no hunting for Turtle Doves will be allowed due to the moratorium announced last May), BirdLife Malta still believes that a spring hunting season should not be opened for 2017.

BirdLife Malta insists that the final decision to be taken by the Government should be based on scientific facts and reminds the Government that political promises do not justify a derogation from the EU Birds Directive.

BirdLife Malta’s vote yesterday during the Ornis meeting was the only one against a spring hunting season for 2017. The Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK), the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), and the two independent government-chosen representatives along with the Ornis Committee Chairman all voted in favour.

The main reason for BirdLife Malta’s position against a spring hunting season remains guided by one important conservation value – that birds should not be killed whilst they are migrating north to their breeding grounds.

Apart from this, there are further factual scientific reasons why a spring hunting season for Quail is not justified, such as studies commissioned and paid for by government itself which show that in autumn there is a sufficient passage of Quails during the first two months of the hunting season.

Quail shot by hunters during the spring hunting season (Photo by Lars Soerink)

These facts show that in 2014, a total of 45,863 Quails were estimated to have migrated over Malta in autumn with this figure increasing in 2015 and increasing further in 2016 to 69,915. This means that autumn is considered a satisfactory hunting season for Quail. (See Table 1 below)

Even comparing the actual number of birds shot proves that Quail autumn hunting is satisfactory. For instance, during the spring hunting seasons of 2011 to 2016, only a total of 1,926 Quails were shot (an average of 321 per season) with the highest recorded amount being that of 2014 with 637 Quails shot. In comparison, during only four autumn seasons from 2011 to 2014 there were 17,333 Quails shot. Once again, this goes to prove that there is no justification for a spring hunting season for Quail as hunting the bird during autumn is satisfactory. (See Tables 2 and 3 below)

In conclusion, notwithstanding the recommendation made to the Government by Ornis yesterday, the final responsiblity now lies with the Government to set the conditions and legislation allowing a spring hunting season for 2017. In view of this, BirdLife Malta will keep on insisting that the Government takes a decision based on scientific and factual reasons and not one which is dictated by political promises and will. In the coming days BirdLife Malta will be submitting these scientific facts to the Government together with its final recommendations.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.