Spring hunting season on hold as court provisionally accepts Birdlife’s ‘urgent’ request

Court set to hear case, take decision on season opening on 19 April


The spring hunting season for turtle-dove will not be opening on 17 April as planned, after the civil court decided to provisionally accept a Warrant for Prohibitory Injunction filed by conservation NGO BirdLife Malta to stop the spring hunting season of the bird.

In a statement, the NGOs president Darryl Grima said that they are satisfied that Malta’s courts “have understood the urgency on this matter” and that they have the responsibility and the power to safeguard the European Directives in our country.

Last year, shortly after the turtle-dove migration over Malta began, Birdlife Malta had said it was “inundated” with reports from members of the public witnessing illegal hunting of the protected bird from “all over the Maltese Islands”. The European Turtle-dove is classified as ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

“Our Law Courts are also European Law Courts with full powers provided to them by the European Union’s Directives themselves. As a Member State we need to abide by EU regulations and directives and the local Law Courts are a way for any citizen and civil society to seek remedy for breaches of the European Directives, including the EU Birds Directive,” Grima added.

The NGO said it will be writing to Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa, and the Head of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) to ensure that they are aware of this development and that no one is permitted to hunt ‘Vulnerable’ turtle-doves this spring before the case is decided on, and only if the case is lost.

“Anyone hunting for European Turtle-doves will therefore be breaking the law. WBRU has the responsibility and obligation to inform all hunters about this decision,” it said.

The NGOs request will be heard and decided on 14 April following an urgent plea from the state advocate to hear the case with urgency before the scheduled start of the spring hunting season.

In a brief statement on Facebook, the hunters’ federation (FKNK) stated that it has filed a request against the warrant of prohibitory injunction, adding that the federation “can issue directives if and when there is a need for them”.


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