GPS-tracked birds of prey disappear upon arrival in Malta’s ‘open season’

Highly protected bird species are “continuously indiscriminately persecuted both on land and at sea” by Maltese hunters, according to NGO BirdLife Malta published GPS data for a Black Kite suspected of being killed while roosting in Fawwara following an arduous journey from the Czech Republic in a press release on Monday.

The statement described Autumn’s hunting season as “an open season for the collection of prized birds for taxidermy,” with the Black Kite forming part of a string of cases that BirdLife has observed.

The press release noted how hunting birds at sea remains entirely unenforced, with hunting lobby FKNK expected to propose looser restrictions for the practice at an ORNIS committee meeting on Tuesday.

BirdLife Malta described how the Black Kite, one of the latest victims of illegal hunting, left the Czech Republic in September, migrating south for the winter and passing safely through six countries until its GPS tracker suddenly stopped transmitting in Malta.

The bird’s migration was only possible due to conservation efforts in its origin country as Czech rescue centres and the University of Veterinary Science in Brno reared the bird from a fledgling and tagged it for monitoring.

Such efforts are “wasted” by Malta’s hunting policies, according to BirdLife Malta.

The Black Kite, OT-093, stopped transmitting over Fawwara, and its long journey from the Czech Republic was cut short – Photo: BirdLife Malta.

Last Monday, BirdLife Malta noted how a Honey Buzzard met the same fate, with its GPS signal going dead close to Birżebbuġa.

“In both cases, the trackers fitted on the birds are believed to have been destroyed upon the birds being killed,” they said.

BirdLife Malta, Head of Conservation Nicholas Barbara reiterated calls for increased enforcement, noting how hunters “evidently” continue “taking advantage of the scant police resources on land, absent at sea.”

Police officers deployed to enforce hunting regulations during this year’s autumn hunting season have been reduced as the Malta Police Force is not including additional officers to boost its Environment Protection Unit.

The statement said hunting at sea, permissible from 1 October, goes completely unenforced, as almost 300 hunters licensed for at-sea hunting of permitted species “chase down migrating birds in open water,” as the law currently allows the practice 3km or more from the coast.

Hunting lobby group FKNK is expected to propose reducing the restriction to just 1km from the coast at an ORNIS committee meeting informing government decisions on hunting on Tuesday.

The Black Kite and Honey Buzzard, suspected dead, are joined by a Short-Toed Snake-Eagle and a Lesser Spotted Eagle, all highly protected birds of prey, and a host of other illegally hunted bird species.

BirdLife Malta appealed to members of the public to forward any information on hunting illegalities for the police to execute enforcement duties.

Reports can be made to the Environmental Protection Unit by phone on 119, BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645, 7925 5679, or


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D. Borg
D. Borg
4 months ago

Send a shipload of hunters to Ukraine or Gaza, so they can experience being on the opposite side of the barrel.
And let the spineless politicians accompany them, so Malta may finally rid itself of both!

4 months ago

If we have a serious police corp who looks at nobody’s face , the gps mounted in every mobile can be tracked to the gps position of the protected bird. But these are also protected by the government , votes come first , to hell with protected birds of prey, that are worth thousands to the hunter.

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