The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) today announced that it will send a record 32 Bird Guards to Malta and Gozo during the autumn hunting season. It also said it had offered a drone for use by the police to detect illegal hunting, but it does not intend to use one this time - as it had done amid much controversy earlier this year until it was shot down.
The Bird Guards will be volunteers from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Rumania, UK and the USA.
"Operation 'Honey Buzzard' will take place at the peak of bird migration and volunteers will monitor the flight corridors and night roosts of birds of prey, storks and herons around the clock and report offences against hunting law to the police. Other tasks include the detection and checking of illegal clap nets and cage traps for trapping of Turtle Doves, Quails and protected wader species."
CABS said that in order to provide evidence of illegalities for the police, each CABS team will be equipped with video cameras and high-performance spotting scopes.
"In addition CABS offered Police Commissioner John Rizzo the provision - at no cost to the police - of a remote-controlled model aircraft with high-definition video cameras and a qualified operator. This would greatly assist the A.L.E. to detect illegal trapping sites, an important factor in the campaign against illegal trapping," CABS said.
Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld told timesofmalta.com that the offer to the police was made a month ago but no reply has been received yet.
"There are still two weeks to go and I hope Mr Rizzo will accept the offer. I think that if used within the framework of police operations it will be a very good thing." He said that CABS do not intend using such a vehicle this time, pending the outcome of a Magisterial inquiry into their use in Spring.
In spring this year CABS and the German TV station RTL were able to detect a number of illegal trapping installations by using a similar flying device.
CABS said it welcomed the Maltese Government's decision to again impose an afternoon hunting curfew for the last two weeks of September in an attempt to afford additional protection for the passage of birds of prey in this period. But they were 'appalled' by the recommendation of the Ornis Committee that the trapping of Golden Plover in clap nets should again be permitted this year.
"In many parts of Europe the populations of this species has massively declined over the past few years and cannot therefore be sustainably hunted for the time being" states CABS Board Member David Conlin. CABS also points out that the use of clap nets, banned under the EU Bird Protection Guidelines, requires the issue of a so-called derogation. If Malta issues such a derogation it will with certainty be strictly scrutinised by the European Commission."
Contact for queries, photographs: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld Tel +49 228 665521 (office) or +49 179 4803805 (mobile), Email: CABS@komitee.de