Migratory birds and spring hunting in Malta

drawing of a woman holding binoculars in the countryside

The character I have drawn for this article is a bird watcher. In Malta there are many migratory birds she can watch. Migratory birds such as Montagu’s harriers, ospreys or Eleonora’s falcons pass over Malta in Spring when they return to Europe from Africa.

Everywhere in Europe spring hunting is forbidden because it’s a migration and breeding season. Everywhere except in Malta because it has a derogation to permit hunting in Spring, in addition to the other hunting periods.

In Malta turtle dove and quail hunting in Spring is questioned as their populations are declining in Europe. But the pro-hunting lobby is powerful with political supports and very efficient lawyers: I remember that in 2014 Chris Packham, a BBC presenter was questioned for several hours by the police. He was suspected of ‘defamation’ for filming hunters. The worst thing is now the incredible lawsuit against the bird conservation organisation Birdlife Malta. The hunters’ federation is suing Birdlife Malta for ‘illegal possession of protected birds’. Birds that were shot at by hunters and that Birdlife Malta members were trying to rescue!

Fortunately, last year 44,000 Maltese have signed a petition against spring hunting. Thanks to them, a referendum will take place on April 11th. Lobbies do not always rule the roost. I hope the vote against spring hunting will win so that Malta becomes a welcoming haven for migratory birds during their long journey.

drawing of migratory bird flying

For more information, see Spring Hunting out website

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