Hunting

The hunting season is now open.

The 2022 autumn hunting season runs between 1st September 2022 and 31st January 2023. There are 40 legally huntable species from land and 12 legally huntable species at sea. To read more about autumn hunting together with a list of huntable species with pictures, and for a detailed guidance sheet about the season, click on the Autumn hunting tab below.

For more details about the spring hunting season, click on the Spring hunting tab. In other tabs you can also find details on illegal hunting in Malta and how to report it.

Autumn hunting

Each year the autumn hunting season in Malta runs between 1st September and 31st January (both days included). Hunting during autumn is permitted for 40 species from land and 12 species at sea. Of these, the European Turtle-dove (Gamiema) can only be hunted between 1st September and 30th September. The overall bag limit for the autumn hunting season for Turtle-dove is 500.

Want to know what is permitted or illegal during the autumn hunting seasons? Download the guidance sheet we prepared for the autumn hunting season in Maltese or English, with details about the season and photos of all 40 huntable species.

Spring hunting

The spring hunting season 2022 ran between 10th and 30th April.

Spring hunting in Malta is currently the subject of Infringement Proceedings initiated by the European Commission against the Maltese Government in December 2020. According to the Commission, this derogation falls short systematically of the requirements set out in the legislation, related in particular to poor supervision of the conditions set out in the derogation, which results in other species than those targeted being affected.

Common Quail (Photo by SEO/BirdLife Spain)

Relying on insufficient or inaccurate information about the populations of wild birds and the available alternatives, Malta also failed to fulfil the basic conditions for granting such derogation. Not least, the high numbers of wild birds illegally shot in Malta constitute a major and systemic failure to establish a general system of protection as required by Article 5 of the Birds Directive.

In 2022, with a difference to spring hunting seasons since 2017, spring hunting in Malta was opened not just for Common Quail (Summiena), but also for the vulnerable European Turtle-dove (Gamiema), which is now no longer protected in spring, after government lifted a moratorium on its spring hunting.

European Turtle-dove (Photo by Denis Cachia)

Despite being red-listed by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction, and with the European Commission asking for its protection across member states, Malta once again risked further infringement proceedings to appease the hunting lobby to hunt this species.

The dates for the hunting season were between the 10th and the 30th of April 2022. Hunting on Common Quail was permitted from the 10th until the 30th, while hunting on Turtle-dove was permitted between the 17th and the 30th of April. A total of 8,041 hunters this year applied for the special spring hunting licence.

You can find Legal Notice 116 of 2022 announcing the Derogation for a 2022 Spring Hunting Season for Turtle-dove and Quail in English here, and in Maltese here.

Want to know what was permitted or illegal during the spring hunting season? Download our Illegal Hunting Activity Guidance Sheet in Maltese or English for the spring hunting season.

For more information about spring hunting in Malta and the differences between the huntable Quail and the protected European Turtle-dove click here.

Laws & reporting

Any illegalities during the closed and open seasons should be reported immediately to the police on 119, asking to be transferred through to the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), previously known as the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit.

Please then report to BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645/6 or on the emergency (out of office hours) number 7925 5697.

If you need any extra help, download our step-by-step guide in Maltese or English on how to report illegal hunting to the police.

Illegal hunting

Every spring and autumn, Malta becomes a vital stepping stone for birds using this migratory route to move between European breeding and African wintering grounds and the islands act as a place to rest and regain fat supplies before continuing on these long and taxing journeys.

Due to its strategic location on this key migration route, Malta has a long and impressive species list, totaling 389 species that have been recorded. Of these, over 170 occur with regularity on migration, in many cases in significant numbers. Scientific ringing studies carried out by BirdLife Malta since the 1960s have shown that birds from at least 48 countries use Malta during migration. Malta also has an exceptionally high density of hunters and per square kilometre has the densest population of hunters in the European Union.

Illegal hunting is a widespread and serious problem, with poachers specifically targeting raptors (birds of prey) and Herons as well as rare migratory birds such as  the Greater Flamingo, Black Stork and Eurasian Spoonbill, among others. This persecution reaches its peak during migration periods. Furthermore, illegal hunting continues throughout the year and it is primarily due to this intense persecution that Malta has the dubious distinction of being the only country in Europe and the Mediterranean with no regularly breeding birds of prey. Species such as the Barn Owl and the Eurasian Jackdaw have become locally extinct with the last breeding pairs known to have been shot by hunters. Since 2007, BirdLife Malta has been keeping a centralised database on illegal hunting and trapping incidents witnessed by BirdLife Malta staff, ornithologists, volunteers and members of the public known to the organisation. Other reports from unknown individuals and hearsay reports are not included in this database. An analysis of the database is published annually.