Updated 6pm with PN comments

Another five protected birds were found dead in Delimara on Friday morning, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said.

The marsh harriers were found in two freshly harvested fields close to the Church of Our Lady at Tas-Silġ - the same area where a team from BirdLife Malta saw tens of harriers being shot down illegally between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Five of those harriers were found by the police after a search of the area. 

A CABS officer and a policeman on site where dead marsh harriers were found in Delimara. Photo: CABSA CABS officer and a policeman on site where dead marsh harriers were found in Delimara. Photo: CABS

CABS said it is not yet known whether the birds found on Friday were killed during the same poaching incident.

"What is clear is that the fields in Delimara are a very important roosting area for harriers in spring and these fields are located in one of the worst blackspots for poaching on Malta," CABS wildlife crime officer Fiona Burrows said.

EPU officers collecting harrier carcasses. Photo: CABSEPU officers collecting harrier carcasses. Photo: CABS

The birds found on Friday died in a wheat field and could only be spotted after the fields were harvested. The police, she said, took the birds to the government vet to confirm if they had also been shot.

"There are many more unharvested wheat fields in Delimara and we don´t know how many more dead harriers will pop up in the next days," CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld said. He said CABS will deploy additional teams in Delimara to continue the search, monitor roosting birds and prevent future massacres.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party condemned what it described as a "barbaric act". 

"We need better enforcement and patrolling in such areas, to cut out such abuse and punish law-breakers," PN MPs Janice Chetcuti and Charles Azzopardi said in a joint statement. 

Illegal bird trapping installations

CABS also said that its staff on Wednesday shut down seven illegal bird trapping installations on Gozo.

These included two 20-metre-long clap-nets and a large cage trap for turtle doves, from which six freshly caught birds were freed.

Near San Lawrenz, two large mist-nets and four small cage traps for trapping turtle doves were discovered and dismantled on a garden plot.

Near Marsalforn, CABS led the police to three large quail nets, which were "baited" with live decoy birds. Twelve live quails were confiscated and released and two electronic decoy callers from which quail songs were played were also seized. The police have initiated preliminary proceedings against the landowners, CABS said.

A CABS team with confiscated nets and gear. Photo: CABSA CABS team with confiscated nets and gear. Photo: CABS

Hunter left teenager alone with loaded gun

CABS said that on Monday, its team managed to film a poacher catching extremely rare Ortolan buntings on a trapping site in Għargħur.

The man was apprehended by officers of the Environmental Protection Unit and will be taken to court.

Also, on Monday a CABS team reported a hunter for leaving a 14-year-old minor unattended with a loaded shotgun. The kid was filmed sitting alone in a hunting hide, holding the loaded gun and looking for birds.

CABS thanked the Gozo police and the officers from the EPU for their quick response. 

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