BirdLife Malta has welcomed the government’s decision to introduce more stringent penalties for serious hunting offences.

BirdLife Malta Executive Director Steve Micklewright said this was a major step forward and BirdLife Malta strongly supported the efforts of the government to ensure that the penalties for the illegal killing of protected birds reflected the severity of such crimes.

“The doubling of penalties for shooting protected birds or shooting in a bird sanctuary and the increase in fines to €15,000 for repeat offenders are especially welcome. We trust that the courts will also be encouraged to apply the ultimate penalty of imprisonment and the suspension of hunting licences for long periods when the crimes warrant such penalties.”

BirdLife also welcomed the decision to introduce administrative or ‘on the spot’ fines for minor offences.

“On the spot fines are an effective way of dealing with these sorts of infringements and should enable the police and courts to focus on the much more serious offences. However, we urge the government to ensure that repeat minor offenders are put through the courts when on the spot fines do not deter them,” said Micklewright.

BirdLife said illegal bird hunters need to feel that the chances of them being caught and convicted are high.

“BirdLife Malta looks forward to the establishment of a specialist police wildlife crime unit who will be trained and competent in detecting illegal bird hunting. This is a vital next step and we will support the government every step of the way as they try to make this unit a reality.”

The greater regulation of hunting organisations has also been welcomed by BirdLife Malta with the introduction of minimum standards likely to make the FKNK the only hunting organisation that hunters can join in order to get a hunting licence. Mr Micklewright added, “A major problem has been the possibility of convicted illegal hunters registering with different hunting organisations in order to get a hunting licence. We hope that these changes will mean that the FKNK will feel more confident in expelling rogue hunters and trappers from its membership as part of more coordinated efforts by stakeholders to end illegal hunting on Malta.”

See also http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20131024/local/rare-eagles-shot-down-at-buskett.491630#.UmkRpBCBZOQ

PN CONDEMNATION

The Nationalist Party condemned yesterday's massacre of a flock of eagles. It described those responsible as irresponsible and said such incidents were on the increase because the government had eased controls and restrictions on hunting.

It said yesterday's announcement of an increase in penalties was an exercise in hypocrisy.

The same prime minister who had promised everything to hunters during the electoral campaign was now saying he would amend the rules to double the fines. He was trying to put out the same fire he had started. .

 

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