The hunters’ federation said it will persist with any legal action it deems necessary to put “a definite stop to collective punishments”.

In a statement yesterday, the FKNK said a distinction must be drawn between the illegal killing of birds and legal hunting.

As a signatory of the Berne Convention on nature conservation, Malta should play an important role in actions against illegal killing of birds and follow the convention’s recommendations which include: tolerance of illegal killing of wild birds and recognition of legal hunting and sustainable use.

Collective punishment was unjustified and could never be accepted in a civilised society

Last Saturday, the government announced it would close the hunting season until October 10, following a spate of illegal bird killings. The following day, about 200 hunters participated in an illegal protest in Valletta following which a group of hunters attacked birdwatchers in Buskett.

The FKNK subsequently filed a judicial protest objecting to what it called “collective punishment”.

Yesterday, the federation said collective punishment had been scrapped during Brussels discussions last December in connection with the draft Key Actions for Large Carnivore Populations of bear, lynx, wolf and wolverine in different populations in Europe.

Collective punishment, it insisted, was unjustified and could never be accepted in a civilised society. The government had acted too hastily, as did all those entities that applauded its decision.

The federation said that, while it understood that hunters were hurt, it appealed for its members’ calmness and cooperation.

“FKNK has weathered many a storm, however, and with the full backing of its members, has always managed to survive and grow stronger. This has never been achieved through illegal actions, but through careful consideration and forward-looking decision-making, dedication, and backing and unity within its membership fold,” the federation said.

It called on its members to recognise the fact that FKNK’s officials had been very busy in the preparation of the objections regarding the proposed abrogative referendum to abolish spring hunting, which objectives have to be filed in the Constitutional Court by next week.