BirdLife Malta has released footage of a child handling a shotgun and being guided to aim and shoot at a bird in Miżieb on Friday.

Last week the NGO claimed that the child was being guided by the brother of FKNK secretary general Daniel Xriha. The man had already been filmed committing a similar crime last year. 

Footage: BirdLife Malta

But FKNK denied BirdLife's claims saying they were “incorrect and deceitful”. It accused head of conservation Nicholas Barbara and other BirdLife activists of being in a private area and said it had filed a report about the matter with the police.

On Monday BirdLife released the footage, showing a hunter instructing a child to handle a loaded shotgun and shooting it.

At one point the gun slips and misfires, something that could have easily injured the child or the hunter, BirdLife said.

The NGO added that the footage showed "the vulgar and bullying attitude one comes across from hunters". The hunter is seen making obscene gestures towards BirdLife Malta's team.

As police officers reach the scene and question the hunter, a chorus of expletives can be heard in the background. BirdLife said the insults came from other hunters hiding in the Miżieb valley at the time and were directed at its team of activists.  

In a statement, the NGO commended the "swift action" by the police force’s Environmental Protection Unit.

It meanwhile insisted that the hunting lobby "has truly lost control of its members and discipline within the hunting community is as fictitious as its zero-tolerance policy".

'Miżieb represents mecca of illegalities'

"Miżieb truly represents a mecca of illegalities as evidenced once again by the rampant illegalities witnessed this year," BirdLife said, adding that a detailed report of the illegalities will be submitted to the European Commission and shared with the media in the coming days.

CEO Mark Sultana meanwhile noted that BirdLife Malta always operated within the law.

"We would like to remind everyone that Miżieb footpaths were promised to be open to the public all year round by Prime Minister Robert Abela, and Ministers Ian Borg and Aaron Farrugia.

"We will not be intimidated by threats of legal action against us especially when they are frivolous. In the same way, we were not intimidated when we were attacked, had our property damaged and nature reserves vandalised," he said.

"We will not stop exposing hunting illegalities – this is our duty and our right. We will persevere until things are done right. This can only happen when politicians refrain from taking vote-catching decisions and put the common good at the forefront of their decisions when it comes to hunting. That will hopefully be followed by a more disciplined and respectful hunting community.”

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