A points system similar to that used for drivers is to be introduced for hunters and trappers, the Gozo Ministry announced on Saturday, with legal changes also easing licence suspension rules for poachers guilty of flaunting the law.
The legal amendments will see various offences listed in the Conservation of Wild Birds and Conservation of Wild Rabbits regulations subject to fixed point deductions, ranging from two to four per offence. A hunter or trapper caught with illegal electronic equipment, for instance, will be docked four points.
Hunters and trappers who accumulate 12 or more points over a two-year period will have their licence suspended for one year. Anyone suspended will be barred from applying for any other related licences during their suspension period.
But licence suspensions will from now on only be applicable to the offence committed, meaning a poacher caught shooting a protected bird will no longer have their trapping licence suspended too.
Licence holders will be allowed to appeal decisions before the administrative review tribunal. While that appeal is pending, the two-year period for points deductions will remain in force and points accumulated by law-breaking hunters will continue to apply. Points will only be deducted from the total if an appeal is decided in the licence holder’s favour.
The legal amendments will also revise the classification of a number of poaching offences, to make them subject to administrative fines rather than court proceedings. The ministry did not provide a list of which offences are being reclassified.
Administrative fines remain unchanged, it said.