In 2015, soon after the hunting referendum, the Government had taken the bold decision to close the spring hunting season prematurely when a protected Common Kestrel crashed bleeding into the yard of St Edward’s College in Cottonera while the children were on their school break leaving the young students traumatised.
Immediately after the referendum, the Prime Minister had warned that he would not tolerate abuse and true to his word, on that occasion he closed the season after four birds were illegally shot.
This year, we are now in the second week of the spring hunting season and the casualties of the 2017 spring hunting season have now risen to ten. Since our last press release issued two days ago, another two shot birds of prey have been retrieved by BirdLife Malta. (see list below)
We have called on the Government and the Prime Minister to immediately close the hunting season to protect migratory birds heading to their breeding grounds in Europe. This would be in line with the zero tolerance approach promised by the Prime Minister himself after the referendum of April 2015. Despite our calls, however, the only reaction we have had is absolute silence. BirdLife Malta asks what has changed since 2015?
The latest two casualties of the 2017 spring hunting season are another two protected birds of prey – a shot Marsh Harrier which was retrieved by members of the public two days ago from Mġarr, and a shot male Lesser Kestrel which was retrieved by the Gozo Police yesterday. While the Marsh Harrier had shotgun injuries to the eye and to the head, the Lesser Kestrel was suffering from injuries to the right wing and the left leg.
All the shot birds retrieved since the start of the season are frequent migrants over the Maltese Islands in spring and heavily protected species in the European Union, and having received ten in just over a week of spring hunting is a mere indication of how many of these birds are being targeted illegally.
In these circumstances, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana is today reiterating BirdLife Malta’s call on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to immediately close this year’s spring hunting season as he had done two years ago after four birds were illegally shot. Up to our last press release on Monday, eight shot protected birds had triggered no reaction. Will the 10th one do? Let’s wait and see.
Chronological list of protected birds shot up to now this season:
- Sunday 26th March Marsh Harrier, Selmun.
- Tuesday 28th March Common Kestrel, unknown location.
- Thursday 30th March Common Swift, Aħrax tal-Mellieħa.
- Saturday 1st April Hoopoe, Laferla Cross.
- Saturday 1st April Marsh Harrier, Qormi.
- Saturday 1st April Marsh Harrier, Għasri Gozo.
- Sunday 2nd April Hoopoe, Siġġiewi.
- Sunday 2nd April Barn Swallow, Marsa.
- Monday 3rd April Marsh Harrier, Mġarr.
- Tuesday 4th April Lesser Kestrel, limits of Rabat Gozo.
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.
You can also click here to watch the footage of the shot male Lesser Kestrel which was retrieved by the police in Gozo being examined by the vet. This was the latest casualty of the 2017 spring hunting season and as it was suffering from injuries to the right wing and the left leg, it had to be euthanised.
Click here to read the April 2015 Times of Malta report about the kestrel which landed in the yard of St. Edward’s College in Cottonera and here to read the press release issued by BirdLife Malta on the day.