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