BirdLife Malta said today that illegal hunting on protected birds was on the increase again, even before the hunting season opens on Monday.

Last week, BirdLife Malta received a Cory’s Shearwater (picture), a Little Egret and a Purple Heron , all with severe gunshot injuries.

The conservation organisation said that it had received many reports of illegal hunting, including poachers shooting at Bee-eaters and Turtle Doves in Girgenti, killing a Montagu’s Harrier and Honey-buzzard at Laferla Cross, shooting at Oystercatchers from a speedboat near Ghadira Bay and shooting down a Purple Heron at Dwejra. A dead juvenile Purple Heron with gunshot injuries was also reported from the Foresta 2000 site in Mellieha.

“In a depressingly familiar pattern, as bird migration begins, protected birds are being targeted both on land and at sea," said André Raine, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager. “Despite the predictable upsurge in illegal hunting, the (police) ALE are still committed to other duties, such as beach patrols,” continued Dr Raine. “While we have seen that the ALE in particular are effective when they are out in the countryside, at present they are repeatedly unable to deal with illegal hunting reports due to their extremely limited resources. This is not an acceptable situation.”

Dr Raine said the recent conviction of the FKNK’s Secretary General Lino Farrugia regarding an illegal trapping incident brought into question the stance of the hunting federation regarding illegal hunting. This, he said, was a bad example to the hunting community.

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