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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Open season for hunting in Malta comes to an end

The limited open season for hunting set up by the Malta government for this year came to an end officially on Saturday 1 May. The government had decided to open a limited season only for a week.

During the last day of the season five people wearing balaclavas ambushed one of the CABS team (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) while they were at Dingli Cliffs. The attackers threw stones at the team but luckily enough no one was injured. The team reported this incident at the Rabat police station.

Footage of all illegal hunting and trapping activity and a detailed report will be presented to the EU Commission in the coming days and it is expected that action will be taken against Malta for failing to abide by the derogation's rules. The government is also to present a report in the coming weeks.

The records of CABS and Bird Life Malta prove that the spring hunting derogation has resulted in a failure to meet even the strict supervision test and other conditions of the EU Bird Directive.

The information available from both bird camps shows that roughly 260 illegal hunting and trapping incidents were recorded during the six day season outside the permitted times. These included hunting from rooftops, the use of illegally modified shotguns in over 100 cases, targeting of protected species as well as active trapping.

Over 640 observed cases of hunting were observed with 1,305 shots heard in Malta alone during the mornings of the derogation period. This led to the conclusion that many hunters who did not have the necessary spring hunting licence were targeting migratory birds.

Alex Hirschfeld, who is responsible for the organisation of the CABS camp in Malta said that they only covered five per cent of the island so this was the tip of the iceberg.

Inspector Miruzzi who is responsible for the ALE police department said in a TV interview that they managed to arrest a number of individuals. He also said that the number of shot birds was lower than in previous years. Max Farrugia, Chairman of International Animal Rescue in Malta and partner with CABs in this project said that, despite all the good intentions of the police, the local police force could only deal with a fraction of the incidents of illegal hunting which took place during the season. He added that the police force is so small that they cannot be present where and when all the illegal activity is taking place.

The current outcry in Malta is that poachers and hunters are encouraged because of the laughable penalties and the way the Court cases are decided. It is about time the Malta Government increased the minimum penalties that are imposed by law.