Another honey buz­zard shot down, as 50 ‘il­le­gal’ bird call­ers un­cov­ered

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

De­spite the pub­lic out­cry over the shoot­ing of more than 20 pro­tected birds last week, il­le­gal hunt­ing ap­pears to con­tinue.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing vol­un­teers from the Com­mit­tee Against Bird Slaugh­ter (CABS) filmed a hunter shoot­ing down a pro­tected Honey Buz­zard on the Ġebel Ciantar plateau at 7.29am.

The bird was part of a group of buz­zards which had roosted in Bus­kett Gar­dens and was shot down sec­onds be­fore it was about to reach the sea at Għar Lapsi, CABS group said.

“At least five hunters were seen hunt­ing in the area where the bird fell down. In­stead of help­ing to catch the poacher, all of them ei­ther con­tin­ued hunt­ing or left the area be­fore the po­lice ar­rived 45 min­utes after CABS had alerted the head­quar­ters. Of­fi­cers of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Law En­force­ment (ALE) searched the area but were nei­ther able to find the shot bird nor to iden­tify the poacher.

“Apart from the high num­ber of il­le­gal­i­ties ob­served since the start of the sea­son, the po­lice do not seem to have an ef­fec­tive ap­proach to bring the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol,” CABS Oper­a­tions Of­fi­cer Axel Hirschfeld said. “The main prob­lem is poor re­sponse time which pro­vides the crim­i­nals with enough time to hide any ev­i­dence and sit at the break­fast ta­ble be­fore the po­lice even ar­rive at the crime scene.” CABS there­fore re­peats its call for the gov­ern­ment to set up a pro­fes­sional wildlife crime unit which is able to guar­an­tee the safety of pro­tected birds roost­ing on Malta. “Un­til such a unit has been set up, hunt­ing should be banned dur­ing the pe­riod of rap­tor mi­gra­tion,” CABS said in a state­ment.

With its state­ment, CABS en­dorses Birdlife Malta and the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­gramme, both of which have al­ready called on the Prime Min­is­ter to close the sea­son as too many il­le­gal­i­ties were ob­served. It also stressed that the num­ber of birds shot down un­ob­served is likely to be far higher than the num­ber of in­ci­dents ac­tu­ally ob­served or filmed.

CABS also said that its teams have dis­cov­ered more than 50 il­le­gal bird call­ers which have been in­stalled in the coun­try­side by hunters to max­imise their quarry.

“We have pro­vided the po­lice with a dig­i­tal map which con­tains the lo­ca­tions of the ma­chines and pro­pose that they should be re­moved im­me­di­ately,” CABS staff mem­ber Fiona Bur­rows said.

The ar­ti­fi­cial lures im­i­tate the courtship songs of Quails, ducks, Red­shank and pro­tected Dot­terels.

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