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BirdLife urges Government to put an end to spring hunting

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Turtle DoveIn reaction to the Government’s statement that it would examine the ECJ ruling to decide whether there is any possibility for “very limited spring hunting” to be allowed in spring, BirdLife revealed that the data used by the government to argue the case for spring hunting before the European Court of Justice was a grave underestimation of the birds shot in Malta.

“Even the low figures presented by the government were enough for the ECJ to rule against spring hunting. To consider another spring hunting derogation due to the hunting lobby’s insistence on a future derogation would be a grave mistake.” said Joseph Mangion, BirdLife Malta’s President.

BirdLife Malta criticized the government for raising false hopes among the hunting community and provoking further expectations for spring hunting. The organisation also questioned the latest statement of the hunting lobby that a spring hunting season could be opened “in view of the new data” available from the Federation.

However the hunting lobby’s past statements clearly show that the data provided through the carnet de chasse (data filed by the hunters based on the number of birds they shoot) was not reliable. In an article published in the Times of Malta on 25th November 2005, entitled ‘Bird lovers, hunters agree figures quoted are ‘on low side” Lino Farrugia, Secretary of the FKNK admitted that the Carnet de Chasse figures for shot and trapped birds are low. The article concerns the 2004 Carnet de Chasse Report, where it is stated that a total of 10,111 Turtle Doves were shot;

“Asked if he [Lino Farrugia] stood by the figures he had given in 2001, when it was stated that hunters shoot about 10,000 turtle doves in spring, Mr Farrugia said 100,000 was “a more realistic figure.”

These sentiments are similarly expressed by Mr. Mark Mifsud Bonnici, Secretary of the St Huberts Hunting Association in a letter by Mr Mifsud Bonnici, published by the Times of Malta;

“How could the “hunters’ bag count” constitute scientific evidence? The Maltese carnets de chasse are worthless, since their validity as scientific evidence depends on their being monitored on a daily basis during the open season by environment wardens. This was never done…”

This point is confirmed by a number of hunters who admitted on the FKNK website forum that they “always divided catch by four” or “never filled it in”.

Despite the fact that the data presented to the Court by the Maltese government relied heavily on questionable data gathered from the carnet de chasse and the hunting lobby in Malta, these figures were enough for the Court to rule against Malta’s decision to open the spring hunting season.

“Any present or future government that risks Malta facing another case at the European Court of Justice on the issue of spring hunting, at the expense of Maltese tax payers and the country’s reputation, would have a lot to explain to the country. It is about time that Maltese hunters limit their hobby to the five months in autumn and winter when they can legally shoot 32 species.” said Joseph Mangion, BirdLife Malta president.

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