Local independent local media organisations including Times of Malta have banded together to urge the government to not open a spring hunting season during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The call, which brings together local news outlets Times of Malta, Malta Today, The Malta Independent and Illum, echoes calls made by ten NGOs to reverse plans to allow spring hunting for quail.

Online news platforms Newsbook, The Shift News and Gozo.News have also endorsed the appeal. 

The government’s consultative committee for hunting and trapping, Ornis, this week decided to recommend that a spring hunting season should be allowed, despite people having been ordered to remain indoors for all but the most essential activities. 

Just two of the Ornis Committee members – one representing NGOs and the other representing the environmental regulator, ERA – voted against the proposal. 

The decision now rests with Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, who is understood to be uncomfortable with rubber-stamping the deal. 

Police sources have said that opening the season would “unnecessarily strain” their resources, as it would require them to divert officers to police hunters in the countryside. 

The force’s entire Administrative Law Enforcement unit, which is usually responsible for such policing, is currently being used to carry out quarantine checks to enforce public health laws introduced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a statement on Saturday, BirdLife Malta urged the government to “recognise that the country is for everyone to enjoy and not just a group with narrow interests which is being constantly privileged.”

The eNGOs which have endorsed their call to not open the hunting season are: 

· Nature Trust-FEE Malta
· Friends of the Earth Malta
· Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA)
· Greenhouse Malta
· Moviment Graffitti
· Bicycle Advocacy Group
· Din l-Art Ħelwa
· Futur Ambjent Wieħed
· Animal Liberation Malta
· Ramblers’ Assocation of Malta

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