Updated 3pm with hunters' reaction
A flamingo was found dead in the sea off Xrobb l-Għaġin on Saturday morning, after a bystander reported hearing a shot being fired.
The dead bird’s carcass will now be assessed by a government vet, who will determine its cause of death.
A BirdLife Malta spokesperson told Times of Malta that they had received a call from a member of the public who saw the bird fall from the sky following a gunshot at 8am.
Members of the police’s Administrative Law Enforcement division were also alerted and headed to the bay close to Marsaxlokk. The flamingo, a juvenile, was found in the water, dead.
Flamingos are currently in their autumn migratory season as they head to Africa. They generally travel in flocks of adults and juveniles, but younger birds occasionally tire out during the journey and descend to the ground to rest.
Two flamingos landed at Għadira Bay last week, wading among swimmers at the popular northern beach.
Flamingos are a protected species and shooting at them is a crime.
Hunting groups condemns killing
Hunting group St Hubert's Hunters were quick to dissociate themselves from the killing, saying they hoped whoever was responsible for the "cowardly act" would be brought to justice.
The group noted that hunters could currently only hunt wild rabbit.
"The killing of any protected species or the taking of any permitted species out of season is always condemmed by Kaċċaturi San Ubertu. Such criminal activity goes against the ethics and the spirit of sustainable hunting," the group said.
Federazzjoni Kaċċaturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti (FKNK) also condemned the illegal shooting, urging its members to pass on any information they had about the perpetrator to the police.
In a statement, FKNK said it could not remain silent when faced with such a shameless act that continued to tarnish the reputation of genuine hunters.
It pledged to immediately suspend the membership of the perpetrator if they happened to be members of the federation, and, depending on the sentence handed down by the court, they could also be kicked out of FKNK.
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