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IAR Malta reports on the first casualties of the shooting and trapping season

Injured honey buzzard on arrival at IAR MaltaIAR Malta has started receiving the first casualties of the shooting and trapping season which opened at the beginning of September.

The first injured bird - a honey buzzard found in the north part of Malta by the police during their patrol - is being cared for at IAR’s centre. The bird has an injured wing and leg.

Later the same day the police received a phone call from a member of the public saying that trapping was taking place in the south of the island. They were also briefed that the trapper had live birds on site which he was using illegally as decoys. Following the report the police managed to trace the trapper and confiscate the birds. The three live decoys were all sandpipers. At this time of the year it is illegal to trap any birds apart from some species of songbird. These birds are also being cared for by IAR Malta.

Sandpipers used as decoys during illegal trappingA third species was confiscated following a report to the Environment Inspectors who, together with the police, confiscated the bird which is now also in IAR’s possession. The bird - a blue rock thrush - is the national bird of Malta and it is illegal to trap this species. It is likely that this bird was kept in captivity for quite a long time and was not well cared for. Its cage was very dirty with a pile of filthy newspaper in the bottom. Worse still, the legs of the bird were in a very poor state. Its feet were all covered with food remains and other dirt which had got mixed with water and formed a ball of muck the size of a big ball bearing. All this hampered the bird’s mobility and prevented it from doing anything other than dragging itself around the floor of the cage.

On arrival the first task was to clean the bird’s legs. This took a good half an hour. A dilute solution of warm water and disinfectant was prepared. With great patience IAR Malta Chairman Max Farrugia started dissolving the dirt stuck to the bird’s feet. It was an extremely difficult job. Great care had to be taken not to injure the bird. It was discovered that on one of its feet the bird did not have any claws. Following this operation the bird was kept in total darkness for some hours to recover from shock and stress. It is now in a clean cage and will be released when it is restored to full health.

Blue rock trush after cleaning in a recovery cage at IAR MaltaOn the same day the police who where on duty in the north part of Malta found a very badly injured quail which had to be put to sleep on arrival. Although no injured birds were received on the previous day it was reported that another bird of prey had been shot.