Malta Bulletins 2001

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Damning Evidence II

ACTION TODAY

Local News
The Malta Independent, 27. January 2002

BirdLife calls for 'serious efforts' to control illegal hunting

Releases pictures of swans killing

BirdLife Malta yesterday released photographs taken when eight mute swans were shot last Sunday at St Thomas' Bay. This was being done, it said, "so that the Maltese may appreciate their beauty and realise the harm which illegal hunting is causing to our country".

BirdLife said such abuses of the law are commonplace in the Maltese Islands and it is about time that the authorities take effective and positive steps to stop this "illegal massacre".

BirdLife said it has long been calling for "serious efforts" by the authorities to control illegal hunting. It listed the major key action points that need to be implemented if illegal hunting is to be effectively controlled:

- The country is in desperate need of an environmental police force; it said the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit should be upgraded to a special police force for the protection of nature. This force has to be given the necessary personnel and equipment to enable it to deal with illegal hunting and other environmental issues.

- The penalties for illegal hunting activities have to be increased considerably. "As things stand today it is worth taking a risk and kill a protected bird. What force does the law have if the penalty for killing a swan that fetches Lm500 on the market is equal to or less than Lm500?" it asked. "The penalties should be so high that the mere thought of having such a punishment inflicted on them will discourage even the most daring attempts to break the law", it said.

- All specimens in stuffed bird collections have to be tagged individually and logged so that every specimen can be traced individually. The Environment Protection Department has already collected declarations regarding the specimens in stuffed bird collections, but said "there are hunters who deliberately inflate their declarations to cover up for new birds killed. These declarations must be verified and certified with serial numbers on tags attached to each individual specimen."

- The law does not permit the firing of more than three shots in a row. Nevertheless, a large number of shotguns can shoot more than five shots. This makes it impossible for a bird to escape. Government must take decisive action to bring such shotguns in line with the law by blocking the excess space in the magazine over and above the quantity permitted by law.

BirdLife welcomed the various condemnations of the killing of the swans, but it now expected the authorities to take positive steps to address the situation. "It is now time to spell words into facts", it said.

BirdLife said it was also encouraged by the overwhelming public concern over last Sunday's incident; it appealed to the public for continued support and to report illegal hunting either to the ALE on tel 2123-5761 or BirdLife itself on 7925-5697 (dial 'swallows' on your mobile).

BirdLife is also embarking on a membership campaign "so that this public outcry against illegal hunting is transformed into a stronger force to achieve better protection for birds in Malta, as it is only in this way that a widespread effective enforcement of the laws can be achieved."

Those interested to join can also visit the website www.birdlifemalta.org and click 'Join us'. BirdLife Malta also welcomes donations.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BIRDLIFE MALTA

swans in flight

SWANS FLYING IN TO ST THOMAS'S BAY

swans in flight

HUNTERS CAUGHT IN THE ACT!

swans in flight

HAULING IN THE 'BOOTY'



HUNTERS' BOSS MAKES WEAK ATTEMPT TO GET HIS HEAD OUT OF THE NOOSE

Accused not FKNK members

None of the three men accused of shooting the swans at St Thomas Bay last Sunday were members of the Federazzjoni Kaccaturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti, Lino Farrugia, FKNK secretary, said yesterday.

In a statement, Mr Farrugia said that the federation therefore was not in a position to take any disciplinary action against the accused.

He said that in letters and other articles in the media "one should not pass comments of a generic nature that would harm the sport of hunting and trapping".

The federation had already condemned the incident in the strongest manner as every serious hunter and trapper had done, Mr Farrugia said.

Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001