Conservation NGO BirdLife Malta published footage of Western Marsh Harriers, a protected species, being shot at in the late hours of Monday evening, with four birds found injured and one found dead.
The birds, which had come to Malta to roost near the Tas-Silġ area in Delimara, were illegally targeted throughout the night, according to the NGO’s brief statement announcing the news.
“BirdLife Malta teams remained on site overnight following reports that the birds were roosting in the area yesterday afternoon. However hunters opened fire on the birds a few hours after sunset, with the massacre caught on film,” BirdLife’s statement reads.
“Police were called on site to do a search, and only five birds were found: four were injured and another one was retrieved dead from the area,” it adds.
The shooting of protected birds in Delimara occurred just two days after the opening of the spring hunting season on 17 April following a court decision that rejected BirdLife’s urgent request to forbid spring hunting of the vulnerable Turtle dove species.
While a warrant for prohibitory injunction was provisionally upheld by the court while it assessed BirdLife’s request, on 15 April the court ruled that the season could not be suspended given that a Legal Notice was already in force and that there weren’t sufficient reasons to stop the spring hunting season from proceeding.
The European Turtle dove is classified as ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.