Some of this autumn’s first migrating birds have already been shot and killed by illegal hunters, Birdlife said today.

The shooting took place in four locations around Malta over the past two days.

The society said yesterday a member of the public reported seeing an early migrating Marsh Harrier, one of the first seen this season, being shot three times by a man at Zonqor Point in Marsascala. The man was then seen collecting the shot bird and walking off with it.

Then, this morning, a flock of herons was seen, again in Marsascala, and again a member of public reported that shots were fired at the birds as they passed.

Later in the day herons were shot near Qawra Point.

This afternoon, Birdlife said it received a Night Heron that had evidently been hit by shotgun pellets that left a hole in its left wing.

The injured heron was immediately taken to a vet, but the wound was so severe that it had to be put down.

"These incidents come just days after the government announced a four-hour roll back of the curfew on hunting during afternoons during the peak migration period in September," Nicholas Barbara, Conservation Manager of BirdLife Malta said.

“No sooner do migrating birds appear over Malta than they are shot at, proving that more controls to prevent illegal shooting of birds are required, not less.”

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