Outrage at birds of prey ‘slaughter’

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Subject: Outrage at birds of prey ‘slaughter’
From: "david camilleri" <>
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 08:45:13 -0400
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Outrage at birds of prey ?slaughter?

Staff Reporter

Wildlife campaigners yesterday claimed the ?barbaric slaughter? of birds of prey was proof many hunters were ignoring the law.

Both BirdLife Malta and Nature Trust claimed hundreds of honey buzzards were shot in Zabbar, Birzebbuga, San Gwann, Victoria, and Ramla Bay in Gozo.

They said Malta saw a huge migration of birds on Wednesday afternoon.
But what should have been a spectacle, soon turned into carnage.
?Everywhere in the countryside there were scenes of dying birds falling in public roads, and other cases of maimed birds of prey being bludgeoned by hunters,? said a BirdLife spokesman.

?There was not one case where a honey buzzard flew over a hunter and was not shot at,? he added. BirdLife claimed Malta?s credibility as a civilised nation was at risk, and said bird protection must be a top priority whether or not Malta joins the European Union.

The group repeated its view that a ban on the hunting of birds may be the only solution. ?Neither the government nor the hunting associations have been able to control illegal hunting. This state of affairs is totally unacceptable and will only mean that BirdLife Malta will have to call for realistic enforcement and if necessary the ban of hunting in certain periods.

?Hunting abuses are much simpler to control during a close season than during an open season,? said a spokesman.

Nature Trust Malta said the situation was ?a disgrace? and claimed there was no real political will to tackle the problem.

?Nature Trust urges the government to take immediate action to investigate these incidents and take steps to have the police ready to act when such incidents occur. Roadblocks should be organised when such reports start flooding in. The public seems to have no option but to turn to the environmental organisations in despair for something to be done,? said the group?s president Vincent Attard.

Birds of prey, such as honey buzzards, have been protected under Maltese law since 1980. Except during migration, buzzards are known to be shy and are seldom seen in Europe as they stay hidden in forests. They do not roost communally in their breeding or wintering grounds. But on migration routes, like Malta, communal roosting is very evident.

david camilleri

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