Autumn Hunting Season opens again

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.

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List of birds that may be hunted during the autumn hunting season including the red-breasted merganser which has now been removed from this list (marked in red).  Source: Wild Birds Regulation Unit

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.

It happened again!  Honey Buzzard blasted out of the skies

It happened again!  After only 2 weeks of a five month hunting season on Tuesday 14 September the first confirmed victim of illegal bird shooting was recorded; a Honey Buzzard.

However, this does not mean it was the first protected bird that was shot during this year’s season.  In fact, on the same day at least another two honey buzzards were shot down according to birdwatchers at Tal-Virtu’.  Unfortunately these incidents are not uncommon during this time of year.

Each year history repeats itself.  Sometimes the victim is a Honey Buzzard, at others it is a Black Stork.  The list of protected birds shot each year ranges from relatively common birds to vagrants.

Honey Buzzards, like all birds of prey, are protected by law in Malta.  This raptor is listed as Annexe I species in the Birds Directive making it illegal to kill them in every single country of the EU.  Moreover, birds of prey were protected in Malta some 35 years ago.

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Although illegal bird shooting is not as severe as it used to be during the 1980s and 1990s, it looks like it is impossible to experience a hunting season without illegal shooting.  This means that while a substantial number of hunters over the years have understood that these birds are protected, others think they are above the law and can shoot anything they like.  It seems like not even 35 years were enough to successfully protect such birds.  Although regulations exist, enforcement is relatively poor, although it has improved over the years.

Another key issue here is education.  Through several education campaigns by many environmental organisations awareness was raised and it looks like these were indeed successful since the younger generation is more aware of the importance of protecting such birds.  Therefore, such campaigns are necessary if we want to successfully protect these birds.

We from ADŻ Malta Green Youth condemn such criminal actions and we urge the public to report any illegal shooting to the police.  Moreover we also encourage the public to go and watch birds at several places such as Buskett in order to enjoy the beauty of bird migration.

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Reġat ġrat!  Kuċċarda tintlaqat biċ-ċomb

Reġat ġrat!  Wara biss ġimgħatejn minn ħames xhur tal-istaġun tal-kaċċa, it-Tlieta 14 ta’ Settembru, l-ewwel vittma ikkonfermata ta’ kaċċa illegali ġiet irrappurtata; kuċċarda.

Madanakollu, dan ma jfissirx li din kienet l-ewwel tajra protetta li lemħet iċ-ċomb f’dan l-istaġun.  Fil-fatt, fl-istess ġurnata dilettanti tal-għasafar irrappurtaw li xi kaċċaturi sparaw mill-inqas tnejn oħra fl-inħawi Tal-Virtu’.  Sfortunatament dawn il-każijiet m’humiex daqshekk rari f’dan iż-żmien tas-sena.

Kull sena l-istorja tirrepeti ruħa.  Xi drabi il-vittma tkun Kuċċarda, drabi oħra tkun Ċikonja Sewda.  Il-lista ta’ tajr protett li jintlaqat b’xi tir kull sena ivarja minn għasafar relattivament komuni għal għasafar rari ħafna.

Il-Kuċċard, bħal-għasafar kollha tal-priża, huma protetti f’Malta.  Din it-tajra hija mniżżla bħala speci ta’ Anness I fid-direttiva tal-għasafar u għalhekk huwa illegali li tinqatel f’kull pajjiż tal-Unjoni Ewropea.  Madanakollu, l-għasafar tal-priża ġew protetti f’pajjiżna madwar 35 sena ilu.

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Anke jekk il-kaċċa illegali m’għadiex daqshekk gravi daqs is-snin tat-tmeninijiet u d-disgħajnijiet, jidher li huwa impossibli li jkun hawn staġun tal-kaċċa mingħir kaċċa illegali.  Dan ifisser li filwaqt li numru sostanzjali ta’ kaċċaturi tul is-snin fhemu li dawn l-għasafar huma protetti, oħrajn jaħsbu li qedin fuq il-liġi u li jistaw jagħmlu li jridu u jisparaw fuq kollox.  Jidher li anke 35 sena ma kienx biż-żejjed biex dawn l-għasafar jiġu protetti kif suppost.  Anke jekk il-liġi teżisti, l-infurzar għadu relattivament fqir, anke jekk dan mar għal-aħjar tul is-snin.

Kwusjoni oħra hawnhekk hija l-edukazzjoni.  Bis-saħħa ta’ ħafna kampanji edukattivi minn għaqdiet ambjentali, illum hawn ħafna iżjed kuxjenza fuq kemm huwa importanti li nipproteġu dawn l-għasafar.  Dan jidher li kien suċċess partikolarment fil-ġenerazzjoni taż-żgħażagħ għax ħafna huma dawk li jafu bl-importanza tal-konservazzjoni tal-għasafar.  Għalhekk dawn il-kampanji huma neċessarji jekk verament irridu nipproteġu dawn l-għasafar.

Aħna mil-ADŻ Malta Green Youth nikkundannaw azzjonijiet kriminali bħal dawn u nappellaw lil pubbliku sabiex jirrapporta kull tip ta’ kaċċa illegali lil pulizija.  Aktar minn hekk aħna nħeġġu lil pubbliku sabiex joħroġ fil-kamanja u jgawdi dan it-tajr f’ħafna postijiet bħall-Buskett u biex japprezza l-isbuħija tal-passa tal-għasafar.

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