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MEP attacks spring birdhunting in Malta

Brussels, 15 May 2013 - MEP Andrea Zanoni who is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, has attacked the Maltese Government’s decision to apply the spring hunting derogation. He labelled the seasonal bag limit of 16,000 turtle doves and quail at the height of the reproductive season as an insult to the EU. The Italian MEP said that even though spring hunting is only allowed for these two species, several incidents of illegal hunting have hit the headlines. He cited an incident in which two extremely rare Montagu’s Harriers were shot down.  According to Mr Zanoni, the EU must show that it means business and take a much tougher stance with Malta, as sanctions are the only effective measures against illegal hunting.

Zanoni added that the European Commission and the European Court of Justice must urgently intervene in this issue. In his appeal he stated: “Everyone is equal under the law and so let us open an infringement proceeding against Malta.”

These remarks were made with reference to a number of petitions presented to the European Parliament by various member states against events in Malta during the recent spring hunting season.

Mr Zanoni was in Malta in September last year and visited bird protection teams in the field to find out about the work of the conservationists and see for himself the threat to migrant birds in Malta. During his stay in Malta he observed a number of birds of prey being shot down, including lesser kestrels, honey buzzards and even a sparrowhawk.

Max Farrugian, Chairman of IAR Malta, said: “The effect of the changes made by the present government after the election when the hunting season opened was disastrous. Large numbers of protected species were killed and illegalities were rife. Had it not been for the protection groups the situation would have been much worse: as it was, mid-way through the season the government had to deploy the army to help the police keep order in the countryside.”

A beautiful Montagu's Harrier soars through the sky in Malta