The autumn hunting season is now open from 1st September until the 31st of January 2017. This year, however, a slight change in the regulations has taken place. From the former 41 species which could be hunted legally during the 5 month hunting season, one species has now been removed from the list being granted protection. This bird is the red-breasted merganser (Serra in Maltese).
Additionally, another major change is that for turtle dove hunting. While being one of the favourite game which may be hunted, the turtle dove has been listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to its substantial decline over the last few decades. This year the government has issued a moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring and now has also limited the hunting of this species. Hunting of turtle doves is now only permitted during the month of September with a quota of 7,000 birds.
We welcome these improvements since we believe in the concept of sustainability. Hunting such species in spring has always been bad since it contributes substantially to turtle dove population declines. For such reasons, ADŻ Malta Green Youth has always voiced its concern over spring hunting and we always opposed any decisions taken in the past to open such a season. The fact that such a decision has been taken is a step in the right direction. Additionally introducing further restrictions for turtle doves during the autumn hunting season is a vital step for the conservation of this species.
While migration has already started with quite some interesting species being observed in the past couple of weeks, it will reach its peak in a few weeks time when several flocks of birds, particularly birds of prey can be observed flying over the Maltese Islands. All birds which are not listed under Schedule IIB of L.S. 504.71 (now excluding the Red-Breasted Merganser) are all protected by law and may not be shot. Therefore, we urge the public and law abiding hunters to report any illegalities to the police in order to safeguard the future of our natural heritage.