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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Dramatic win for Conservative Party in Malta promises an end to hunting

Maltese police officers monitoring huntersThe Conservative Party in Malta is in power again for the fifth time. This means that, with the exception of 22 months when the Labour government took over in 1996, they will have been in power for the past 25 years.

The dramatic election which was won by only 1200 votes will undoubtedly have an impact on one of the biggest environmental issues in the country - hunting. Max Farrugia, chairman of International Animal Rescue, reports: "In this election the hunters were divided as to whether they would vote for the Conservative party, the Socialist party, or even decide not to vote at all. A number of votes weren’t collected from the electoral office whilst about 1000 people sent the voting document to Conservative headquarters as a protest. It has been suggested that the Federation of Hunters in Malta made an agreement with the socialist party before the election, but the nature of the agreement was unknown because it was all kept confidential. During a TV debate the leader of the opposition wouldn’t deny or confirm these reports."

The Conservative party confirmed that they would fight in the European Court for the derogation which was given in the pre-accession talks for limited hunting in spring of turtle doves and quail; but at the same time they said they would abide by the decision taken and wouldn’t be prepared to pay any fines.

On the eve of the election a delegation from The Hunters Federation led by the secretary general Lino Farrugia presented a letter to the President of Malta who had been the Prime Minister during the accession period, asking him to intervene with the EU on the issue.

Since Malta’s Ornis committee decided not to recommend to the Minister of Environment to open this year’s spring hunting season because of the court action, a decision is expected in the next few days on whether this year’s spring hunting season will go ahead. Apart from a permanent end to spring hunting, the EU is asking the court to give a preliminary ruling so that the season is suspended this year. This is being contested by the hunters. Such a ruling is awaited in the coming days.

Max Farrugia added: "International Animal Rescue and the German Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) are already putting plans in place for the second ever bird guard camp in Malta following the success of the one we held last autumn."