BirdLife Malta challenges Government in Court: spring hunting season cannot be opened

March 26, 2021 5:44 pm

BirdLife Malta has filed a judicial protest in Court against the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Gozo and the Head of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) for plans to open a spring hunting season without meeting the targets and criteria stipulated by law.

In 2021 the Ornis Committee has recommended to Government a spring hunting season for Quail from 10 to 30 April (Photo by Lars Soerink)

The law stipulates the Government can only open a spring hunting season – which is a derogation from the European Birds Directive – if the autumn hunting season was not a satisfactory alternative.

This means that a spring hunting season on Common Quail (Summiena) is dependent on the amount of quail hunted during the previous autumn. In view of this, the Government obliges all hunters to declare their catches, and hunters are legally obliged to declare in full all their hunted birds. It was obvious this motivated hunters to not declare their catches and over time the participation level of hunters started dwindling.

This was accepted by the WBRU and the hunting organisations who did nothing to install discipline within their hunter members to meet this obligation. In 2020 only 292 hunters, or 2.7% of the total of 10,675 licenced hunters participated in the carnet de chasse. With such a low level of participation, BirdLife Malta is arguing that this does not provide sufficient data for the Government to reach a decision and therefore disallows the Government from opening a spring hunting season this year.

Carnet de chasse extract showing how only 292 hunters (2.7%) declared their catches last autumn

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “One notices that Prime Minister Robert Abela continues to appease the hunting lobby.  Yet we remind him that he is still responsible to ensure that the law is respected.

The lack of participation by hunters in declaring their catches is once again a symptom of the wrong message Government is transmitting to hunting organisations who have no control of their members.”

It beggars belief that of over 10,000  hunters only 292 hunters declared they shot birds in the five months of the autumn hunting season. Just as it beggars belief that PM Abela refuses to act to see that the basic tenets of the law are respected.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here

Read the judicial protest filed in Court by BirdLife Malta here.