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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR joins condemnation of the spring hunting season in Malta

CABS bird guard on the lookoutInternational Animal Rescue has joined conservationists throughout Europe in condemning the Maltese government's decision to permit spring hunting of turtle dove and quail once again. "This is bad news for the populations of two species that are already endangered in large parts of the EU", states Heinz Schwarze, President of the German-based Committee against Bird Slaughter (CABS), a close partner of International Animal Rescue in Malta.

The organisation said that a so-called derogation from the EU Bird´s Directive, as applied in this case by the Maltese government, is legally very questionable, as "hunting of birds on pre-nuptial migration can never be considered sustainable".

"The hunting of migrant birds at a point in time when the species-specific winter losses are already evident causes a far higher damage to populations than hunting in autumn" Schwarze explains. The populations of both species have greatly declined in Germany and other EU member states.

Conservationists also fear that the opening of the hunting season for turtle dove and quail is for some hunters an open invitation to shoot birds of prey illegally. Raptor migration is at its peak towards the end of April, with thousands of honey buzzards, harriers and hobbies roosting on the Maltese islands.

Shot quail in MaltaIAR and CABS are deeply concerned about the ability of the undermanned environmental police unit ALE to conduct effective controls over the restrictions imposed by the government. "Over the past few decades it has proved to be beyond the capability of the police to prevent poaching during the legal hunting season – why should this year be different? asks Schwarze.

International Animal Rescue will be joining a team of eight Bird Guards from CABS in Malta on Friday 16 April to compile data on the extent of illegal hunting for one week before and during the debatable spring hunting season. Their operations will be conducted from 16 to 30 April and will include the recording of the killing of protected species as well as the mapping of illegal bird callers.

In addition, police reaction times to reports of illegal hunting activity will be documented in detail and included in a final report to the European Commission. Heinz Schwarze concludes "Europe's eyes are on Malta this spring. We expect the responsible authorities to employ all legal means at their disposal to fully investigate and prosecute criminal poaching activity".

For more information, please contact Axel Hirschfeld (CABS Press Officer): +49 228 665521 or +49 1794803805