Five protected birds were confiscated at Maltese customs in the possession of three individuals who arrived on a flight from Scotland on November 28, BirdLife said.

It said today that two common buzzards, two oystercatchers and a shelduck were found hidden inside the carcasses of legal game species.

All three of these species are protected under UK, Maltese and EU law. The three men will appear in court early next year.

BirdLife said that in investigating this recent case, it also learnt of two individuals who appeared in court this October, also returning from the UK, one in possession of a cormorant and the other a green woodpecker. These individuals received a €240 fine each.

Conservation officer Nicholas Barbara said: "Maltese poachers have tarnished the reputation of Malta with their annual slaughter of migratory birds for many years. They are now travelling to other countries to shoot down protected species and then attempting to smuggle them to Malta, probably to display in their collections.

"Our British partners the RSPB and other conservationists in Europe are eager to see the outcome of this latest court case. We hope that the courts will apply hefty fines that can act as a deterrent to avoid similar crimes in future," he said.


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