CABS, the Bonn-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter said today that its members in Malta noted more than 330 contraventions of hunting regulations and, in cooperation with the police in Malta and Gozo police, five illegal trapping sites have been closed down.
In addition, acting on information provided by CABS teams, five live protected birds, including a strictly protected Nightjar and several waders, six shot Marsh Harriers, a dead Cuckoo as well as two illegally operated electronic Quail decoy devices were seized by the police.
The committee said that yesterday morning its volunteers located two active clap nets between Xaghra and Ramla (Gozo). These were immediately reported to the police for confiscation.
At about the same time a CABS team in Imtahleb found a 10-metre long vertically strung trapping net (mist net) in which a bird was frantically struggling to set itself free. The police were also called to this case but took 45 minutes to arrive at the scene. The offenders used this delay to remove the mist net so that confiscation was not possible.
Another trapper with an active mist net in the valley (Wied ir-Rum) below Ta´ Baldu was not so fortunate. The police called by CABS yesterday afternoon arrived in less than 20 minutes, seized the net, and initiated proceedings against person or persons unknown.
Cabs said one of its 'patrols' yesterday afternoon made a 'shocking' discovery in the valley between Mtarfa and the Dwejra Lines, finding six dead Marsh Harriers. Their state of decomposition indicated they were dead for a few weeks. A freshly shot Cuckoo were found lying in a newly mown field. All corpses were recovered and taken away by the ALE. The police have begun proceedings against person or persons unknown.
Last night, two Bird Guard patrols deployed in the Bingemma and Bahrija areas found 16 banned electronic decoy devices for Quail.
The police, alerted by the CABS patrols, despatched a mobile squad to the scene. The officers began to dismantle the devices at about 3.30 a.m. Close to one of the devices the volunteers discovered a some 20 metres long mist net and an over 40 metre long ground net for the illegal trapping of Quail. The net was surrounded by six cages with live Quail decoys. A few metres away from the net, in a small garden, an aviary was discovered with several strictly protected bird species and some 20 unringed Turtle Doves, Song Thrushes and other huntable species.
ALE officers and MEPA officials dismantled the nets and freed a Robin, a Dunlin, two Little Stints and a Nightjar - an acutely endangered species throughout Europe from their imprisonment. The birds will be released today in the Il-Ghadira nature reserve. Also planned is the release of five dogs that were found chained up and severely under-nourished in the garden, which was knee-deep in garbage. The police informed the Animal Welfare Department who will take care of the animals this afternoon.
CABS said that this morning in Safi, Delimara, Imtahleb and in Gozo its volunteers noted 330 shots fired. Heading the league table was the area around Safi, where almost 200 shots registered between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.
An ALE patrol alerted by CABS witnessed the 'wild orgy of shooting' and two officers searched the area on foot. The result of the search was not known.
Near Imtahleb, where 88 shots were registered this morning, a CABS team filmed a hunter stashing his weapon in his hide. On the arrival of the police the man took to his heels and, despite an energetic chase, could not be caught.
"An analysis of the video material will hopefully identify the offender."
20 volunteer CABS Bird Guards are currently active in Malta and Gozo. They will remain deployed until 30 April.
"The ‘wardens‘ supposedly provided by the hunting associations to monitor their members have not been seen in the field. If they are indeed deployed, and were to wear a distinctive form of dress or other marking (the CABS observers are highly visible and unmistakeable in their distinctive Bird Guard T-shirts), this might indeed have a deterrent effect on law-breakers in their ranks," CABS said.
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