In Malta the bird catching is a popular sport. Unlike in most other fishing areas in the Mediterranean, however, the captured songbirds do not end up in the pan, but end up as pets in the living rooms of supposed “bird lovers”.
In Malta’s capital, Valletta, a large bird market takes place every Sunday, which is even mentioned in the guidebooks as a tourist attraction.
Bird trapping was permitted until Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004.
With Malta’s accession to the European Union in 2004, the end of legal songbird catching should be heralded. The accession treaty stipulated that first of all the annual fishing time would be shortened, and on 31.12.2008 bird catching was finally banned.
In fact, the bird catchers had to shut down their nets for a few years, until the fall of 2014.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat decided to allow bird trapping between mid-October and the end of December. The Social Democrat, who came to power in 2013, had promised support to the hunting lobby during the election campaign.
In addition, the government gave in to the massive pressure of the birdcatcher lobby and again allowed the bird catch against EU law.
Since then thousands of finches may be caught legally for several weeks in late autumn! In 2015, for example, 12,000 linnets, 800 goldfinches, 4,500 greenfinches, 2,350 siskins, 500 hawfinches, 5,000 chaffinches and 2,350 female carps were released.
It is to be feared that far more animals will be caught and illegally sold on the black market.
But that’s not enough for the Maltese bird catchers. Many have gone underground and have specialized in new prey: that is mainly waders.
Catch net from the air
With gigantic catches of more than 5,000 square feet and electronic decoys, woodcocks, sandpipers, alpine, dwarf and Temminck sandpipers are now being caught in dozens of places on the island. Many animals end up as “living collectibles” in aviaries, others in the pan.
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter uses specialized teams against this new form of environmental crime to find traps and collect evidence for the police. Every year we are attacked by more than a dozen poachers.
Maltese birdcatchers involved: In a special operation this week, three committee teams have observed 9 active traps with huge nets from different observation points off the coast west of Mtahleb. The birdcatchers had equipped the illegal facilities with live decoys and electronic baits to catch protected liners.
The police contacted by us appeared with two patrols, which unfortunately had a hard time on the ground to convict the poachers. At the end of a police operation lasting several hours, the officers had arrested only three poachers, not all nets and decoys could be secured, several bird trappers escaped.
The committee against the bird murder published today a press release to the disappointing yield and a video (see above).
My comment: Malta is the last EU Member State to allow bird hunting in the spring. The European Court of Justice had condemned the country in 2009 for hunting prohibited under EU law. However, every year Malta receives an exemption allowing the shooting of 11,000 lovebirds and 5,000 quails within a two-week period.
Again and again, however, the permissible quotas of a maximum of four animals per hunter are exceeded and also protected bird species such as storks or sailor birds are killed.
Of course everything is caught and shot there, not just what the odds give.
Malta is the most hunted region in the world. There are about 10,000 hunters and 6,000 trappers. Almost every adult man is a “hunter” licensed to kill birds. Many also keep hunting dogs. These are, when they are older and no longer agile enough, simply “disposed of”! Anyone wandering the island in the fall meets men with shouldered rifles at every turn or hears shots from close range.
Apparently, apart from the tourist season, the hunters have no other useful occupation than shooting birds like amok runners.
Why should the hunters of Malta be an exception and not behave like professional killers or psychopaths?
My best regards, Venus