A morning out hunting turned sour when a fight broke out over who had shot down a turtle dove. 

The police are investigating how one hunter ended up requiring medical treatment for serious injuries after he was allegedly beaten up by two other hunters following a heated exchange.

It is understood that the fight broke out over a turtle dove that had been shot with the hunters all claiming it as their prize. Strong words turned to blows with the police being brought in to investigate the matter. 

Sources said the argument had become so heated that one of the hunters had even left his shotgun behind.

The firearm was later retrieved by the police.

The incident is understood to have happened on the last day of the season in rural Mellieħa.

The argument had become so heated that one of the hunters had even left his shotgun behind

An eyewitness told Times of Malta the hunters were seen throwing punches at each other in an area popular with ramblers and cyclists.

This year’s spring hunting season ended on April 30. It was the first time since 2017 that turtle doves could be shot at, despite this being in breach of EU laws.

The moratorium on the species had been enforced after the European Commission threatened legal action if spring hunting for turtle doves was allowed to continue.

This year, the government set a national bag limit of 1,500 birds.

The hunting of quails also ran until April 30 with a 2,500-bird limit. 

Questions have been raised over the reliability of the bag-limit system as it relies on self-reporting by hunters. The Wild Birds Regulations Unit has defended the system, however, conservationists say the bag limit was surpassed long before the season ended.

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