Qawra Point will be designated a no-hunting area in the coming weeks, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said on Sunday.

Birdlife will take care of the area through a "guardianship deed" that will be signed in the coming weeks. This follows the NGO's pleas for the area to be declared a no-hunting zone.

Farrugia’s statement comes as a reaction to the shooting of four flamingos over Qawra on Saturday morning. 

A 23-year-old hunter from Ġzira, who pleaded not guilty to the crime after he was charged with shooting the protected birds. His request for bail has been denied.

BirdLife Malta praised the decision, and said it was "happy to see that common sense has prevailed".

"Now that hunting will be banned in the area, BirdLife Malta looks forward to the signing of the guardianship deed to manage the site," it said.

'Entire hunters community will be punished'

The hunting community was not so pleased, however, with the hunters' federation FKNK expressing disappointment. 

“The FKNK is disappointed that the government intends to impose a collective punishment on hunters for the fourth time due to an illegality allegedly committed by one person.”

The federation said the minister's decision was taken without consultation with the Ornis Committee as he was legally obliged to do.

“Moreover, he is also passing the area to BirdLife, adding to the many already owned by this entity of a few people.

”The federation is investigating what legal steps it can take," it added.

Flamingos are protected birds and shooting or trapping them is a crime.

First-time offenders face anything from a €5,000 fine to one-year jail term, as well as disqualification of their licence. Repeat offenders can be jailed for two years. 

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