Osprey Hunt
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From The Times of Malta October 17, 2001


Illegal hunting "widespread and unchecked"

The illegal shooting of protected birds of prey once again characterised the annual autumn raptor migration season, BirdLife Malta said.

Illegal hunting was widespread and unchecked in many locations in Malta, not least in Gozo where bird protection regulations seemed to be non-existent, it added.

"While this summer the British papers heralded the comeback of the Osprey as a breeding bird in England after an absence of many years, in Malta these birds were greeted by barrages of shots by shooters who have no respect for the laws."

At least 10 specimens were reported shot down from various parts of the islands, the latest one being at Lunzjata, Gozo, in a built up area.

BirdLife added that in Loch Garten, Scotland, one breeding pair of this species attracted over one million visitors per year.

More of another species, the Lesser Kestrel, which is one of the 24 globally threatened species in Europe, were also shot illegally during September and October together with Marsh Harriers and Honey Buzzards. Many birds of prey were also being illegally shot from seacraft.

"While a BirdLife International action plan to safeguard the European population of the Lesser Kestrel is bearing good results, these are being undermined by the local illegal hunting" it said.

BirdLife insisted that the government had an international obligation to protect birds which are an international heritage.

It also called on the authorities to honour their obligations and address the problem of illegal hunting seriously. It was imperative that a proper section of environmental police is set up with adequate resources to tackle illegal hunting, BirdLife said.


Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001