The hunting federation has no legal title over the Mizieb woodland near Mellieha, according to BirdLife Malta.

The organisation this afternoon claimed that the authorities had failed to produce any legal agreement showing the transfer of public land to FKNK, legitimising the federation’s claim to rights over the woodland.

BirdLife Malta president Joseph Mangion said the only document that existed was a 1986 letter by then Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici who, in the run-up to the general election handed Mizieb over to hunters for use as a hunting area.

The claim is found in a report compiled by BirdLife Malta which will shortly be presented to the authorities, including the Prime Minister. It was presented to the media this afternoon.

Mr Mangion said no management plans were ever drafted and approved by the competent authorities for Mizieb as was the case with other stretches of public land handed over to NGOs by the government.

He said the management of public land by NGOs was only permitted after a formal, legal agreement, which imposed strict regulations for the management of the site.

Management plans were prepared and agreed upon and actions could take place only in line with these plans, he said.

If the plans included activities such as erecting signs or building new structures, the NGO was obliged to send planned alterations to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority for permits, without which NGOs could not erect a single sign.

In the case of Mizieb, Mr Mangion added, FKNK seemed to be completely exempt from these rules.

Mr Mangion said 256 illegal hunting and trapping hides were recorded at Mizieb, including some built of concrete and with iron doors.

Some of the hides were built within the boundaries of the Simar nature reserve in Xemxija, a bird sanctuary.

He said that BirdLife Malta is calling on the authorities to clamp down on illegalities at Mizieb and draft a site management agreement similar to that of other areas of natural importance managed by non-governmental organisations.

The report highlights instances of illegal hunting at Mizieb, including the massive find of dead protected birds found last September.

It states that between January 2008 and last March, 478 illegal hunting and trapping incidents were recorded by BirdLife alone.

These included 379 incidents of hunting out of season.

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