With the first signs of Turtle-dove migration over Malta this spring, Birdlife Malta said it has started receiving reports from members of the public witnessing illegal hunting of the protected bird from “all over the Maltese Islands”.
Less than a week from the start of the spring hunting season 2021, the organisation said it was yesterday inundated with calls about rampant illegal hunting. Some said they witnessed protected birds including European Turtle-doves being shot down, with an incident in Għasri, Gozo making the rounds on social media.
BirdLife Malta teams also documented at least two incidents where hunters shot down protected Turtle-doves. On the same day, the organisation said it also received a protected Common Cuckoo with gunshot injuries.
“While there was never a doubt that the spring hunting derogation for Common Quail during the peak migration of Turtle-dove was an intentional smokescreen, the incidents of illegal hunting witnessed with the first signs of Turtle-dove migration mean that the European Commission will not have much choice but to proceed with the legal infringements against this derogation,” the organisation said.
BirdLife Malta said it will be documenting incidents of illegal hunting to submit a report to the European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius for further action.
The organisation thanked the public for reporting illegal hunting and urged anyone who witnesses any incidents, including hunters in their hunting hides waiting for Turtle-doves, hunters with Turtle-dove decoys or any shot protected bird, and to immediately report these to the police (Environmental Protection Unit, EPU) on 119 and to BirdLife Malta on 7925 5697.