Terrorism ...
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from The Malta Independent, December 11, 2001

Speak out on illegal hunting

I am writing in response to recent letters in The Malta Independent about hunting.

Following a visit to Malta in September, I wrote to Environment Minister Francis Zammit Dimech expressing my concern about bird protection.

The response gave details of the number of illegal hunting charges (which did little to alleviate my concern) and concluded: "I am sure you do understand that in this strategy one must distinguish between the law abiding hunter and the few that flout the law."

While I personally do not understand the attraction of the sport, I agree with the minister that the law abiding hunter should not be penalised - unfortunately from my experience in Malta it is actually the vast majority of hunters who flout the law. I probably saw a few hundred hunters and they all shot indiscriminately at turtle doves or raptors alike. I did not see a single hunter who put down his gun when he saw a protected species flying within range.

From personal experience, I would also like to challenge the view that hunting and trapping are sustainable in Malta ("Lest we forget the three million birds shot in Malta!"). Malta has virtually no breeding species and for example I saw hardly any finches, larks or gulls during my time on the island. While Malta is a rocky island which is not ideal for a wide variety of birds, my conclusion was that the majority of species have been hunted or trapped to near extinction. Extinction does not equate to sustainability.

I would also like to comment regarding Lino Farrugia#s letter (Yet another foreigner with 'advice' on Maltese hunting). I can assure Mr Farrugia that if there really were one million people shooting birds illegally in Britain I would be making strong protestations within the UK. I am sure Iain Robson would do the same thing. Yes, there are small number of hunters within the UK (nowhere near a million as Mr Farrugia claims), but the majority of them hunt legally. We do have incidences of game keepers killing breeding raptors illegally and problems with egg collectors, and the government has recently passed new legislation to give further protection to the environment. I condemn all illegal acts against the environment whether committed by co-nationals of mine or by people of a different nationality.

While in Malta, I was told by a few Maltese nationals that they were too scared to speak out or take any action in case of physical reprisals from the hunters. It is abhorrent that there are people who feel like this and I call on all nature-loving Maltese and any hunters who abide the law to speak out against the illegal hunters who are giving Malta a bad name.

Ian Woodward


Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001