Twelve Maltese hunters arrested in Sicily.
Max Farrugia (pictured below), our Chairman in Malta, reports that twelve Maltese hunters have been arrested by officers from the Guardia dei Finanza at the Port of Pozzallo in Sicily as they were about to board a catamaran and return to Malta.
They were caught carrying a quantity of dead birds of various protected species, as well as illegal arms and ammunition.
Among the seabirds and shorebirds that were confiscated were species that are on the verge of extinction. Reports confirm that the men did not have hunting permits and some of them also had guns in their possession without valid licences. Other goods connected to hunting were also confiscated: among these were laser lights, birdcallers, and other light systems used during hunting.
This hunting equipment is used mainly to attract the birds, making it much easier to hunt and kill them. All the equipment, plus 12 hunting guns and ammunition, were confiscated by the Italian Police.
The case is being investigated by Sicilian officials from the Customs department and the Police unit which deals with illegal hunting in Sicily.
“The cold weather experienced by most of Northern Europe during recent weeks caused a large number of birds to migrate further south in search of a warmer climate, making them vulnerable targets for illegal hunters,” Farrugia explained.
Alan Knight, our Chief Executive, added: “We congratulate the officers and officials at the Port of Pozzallo on the arrest of the twelve men. Their apprehension must send a strong message to other criminals intent on shooting and smuggling protected species out of the country. A high level of vigilance by Customs officials and rigorous law enforcement by the police are vital if these highly endangered species are to stand any chance of survival.”