The average Maltese hunter caught just 0.29 of a bird during the spring hunting season, according to figures compiled by hunters’ leading lobby group.

The FKNK said that an average of 3,420 hunters were out hunting on each day of the open season, which allowed licenced hunters to shoot turtle dove between April 17 and 30.

When compared to the official reported harvest of birds, that means that the fractioned average take per hunter was of 0.29 birds, FKNK said.

Maltese hunting is based on a self-reporting system whereby hunters must, at least in theory, report catches through a smartphone app or by sending an SMS with details about their catches.

The system has been flagged as inadequate by bird protection activists, who say catches are woefully underreported.

In 2020, for instance, just 2.7 per cent of registered hunters reported catching any birds during the hunting season. 

The FKNK noted that there had been 73 official reported illegalities during the 2022 spring hunt, with just under half of those, 34, concerning the shooting of protected birds.

Percentage-wise, around 2.6 per cent of hunters committed illegalities, it noted.

The FKNK said its statistics indicated that turtle dove populations were healthy and regenerating: 70% of ‘opportunity turtle doves’ that were available to hunters were not taken, it said, and the ratio of juvenile to adult hunted turtle doves was encouraging.

Harvested juveniles were 28% and 40% more than the adults for 2021 and 2022 respectively, it said, saying this was a “positive gauge of the species hunting sustainability in autumn.”

The FKNK figures were based on voluntary surveys it carried out among its members.

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