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British female volunteer bird guard assaulted in Malta

A 26-year old female volunteer who monitoring illegal hunting in Malta with the Committee Against Bird Slaughter(CABS) has been assaulted by two men. She was searching for dead birds at Mizieb, a site apparently given to the Maltese hunters by the government as a hunting area.

Fiona Burrows from Nottingham said she was alone when two men assaulted her, grabbing her and her bag. After her ordeal she said she thought she was going to be abducted, however she screamed repeatedly until the rest of the team that was in the area arrived and her assailants, who she said were hunters, demanded that she take them to the team leader.

Once they met the CABS leaders a heated argument ensued, with the hunters insisting that the volunteers had no right to be at Mizieb. The situation was calmed down by a policeman who was accompanying the CABS team.

Ms Burrows said she was not injured, but has filed a police report.

Meanwhile, officials from CABS, together with their partners in Malta International Animal Rescue and BirdLife Malta, stated jointly later in the day that, a year after they had discovered a 'cemetery' of birds in Mizieb, no proper investigation had been held.

They said that, in a search of sections of Mizieb, their volunteers found 77 dead birds within a few hours. Most were hidden under stones and twigs, and included protected species.

Inaction to curb abuse was empowering hunters to commit illegalities, said David Conlin, CABS team coordinator. He insisted that the police force should have an environmental crime unit for ongoing monitoring and investigation of such matters.

Mr Conlin said that in the week that the CABS team had been in Malta, illegal hunting was observed at 32 sites.

As far as anyone was aware there is no formal, legal agreement between the government and the hunters' federation for the federation to manage the Mizieb woodland, but the hunters were still setting hides at Mizieb and signs had been set up telling picnickers not to approach them.