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Maltese hunters detained in Milan following attempt to smuggle protected bird species

Three Maltese nationals were detained in the Milan airport of Linate earlier this week after a hunting trip in Argentina. Their luggage was found to contain dead birds intended to be smuggled into Malta.

The statement and photo released by the Milan police alluded only to an attempted smuggling of some 180 dead birds belonging to various species protected by the Washington Convention. The reported add that among the birds were carcasses of Wattled Jacana waders (Jacana jacana),  the Silver Teal dabbling duck (Anas verisolor),  the Nacunda Nighthawk (Chordeiles nacunda), and Whistling Herons (Syrigma sibilatrix).  The latter were the most numerous in quantity.  Reports did not confirm whether the Maltese had any hunting equipment with them.Photo released by the Italian police showing the dead birds.

The Milanese customs department at Linate Airport, together with members of the financial Police Guardia di Finanza, State Forest Rangers and CITES officials, were involved in the investigation.

All the birds were confiscated and passed on to the State Forest Rangers, while the three Maltese were detained and referred to the Police authorities. They are being charged with  violating the Washington Convention regarding the  international commerce of flora and fauna species which are in a state of extinction.  

The Maltese authorities have been informed of the case.

Max Farrugia from International Animal Rescue Malta said: “There were large quantities of certain species and this might be the proof the Italian police need to accuse them of trafficking protected species. It  seems the birds were not only for their private collection, but some were also to sell, either in the form of carcasses or after they had been professionally stuffed by a taxidermist. This was probably planned to cover part of the expenses involved in hunting in Argentina.”