BirdLife Malta and CABS discover more dead birds in Mizieb
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On the anniversary of the discovery of over 200 dead protected birds stashed throughout the Mizieb woodland, BirdLife Malta and CABS have revealed more evidence of illegal killing of protected birds in Mizieb and throughout Malta.
In the past week observers from both organisations have recorded shots fired at a Honey Buzzard and three Marsh Harriers in Mizieb. CABS also found a freshly shot Nightjar in the woodland. BirdLife and CABS teams today conducted another search in the woodland and found the remains of over 80 dead birds, some freshly killed and others killed in the past. The protected birds were handed over to the police.
Two CABS members were assaulted during the search. A UK citizen, Fiona Burrows, was attacked by two persons who tried to take dead birds from her during the search. Another person, who claimed to be an FKNK official, punched CABS Media Officer Axel Hirschfeld in the face in the presence of police officers. The volunteers pressed charges against the aggressors.
Over the last week illegal hunting has been recorded by teams from both organisations at least 39 separate locations in Malta and Gozo. Only yesterday morning, teams witnessed at least 12 protected birds being targeted by illegal hunters. Since the start of the international conservation camps on the 11th September, 68 incidents of protected birds being shot at, and over 240 additional illegalities including shooting after the 3pm hunting ban and shooting in bird sanctuaries, have been recorded. Furthermore both organisations found 5 shot protected birds over the past week.
Today’s finds in Mizieb mirror last year’s discovery of over 200 dead protected birds stashed in just a third of the woodland, a favoured roost site for migrant birds. The birds were handed over to the police last September. Although the authorities had stated that they would conduct an investigation, to date no results have been disclosed and no one has been convicted of the crimes.
“By ignoring Malta’s largest wildlife crime incident in recent years the authorities are simply harbouring the perpetrators of such crimes, thereby empowering them in their continued defiance of the law” said David Conlin, CABS Operations and Police Liaison Officer.
BirdLife Malta and CABS expressed their incredulity at the way the Mizieb case has been handled by the authorities.
“Mizieb is also littered with illegally built hunting and trapping hides, some inside the Simar bird sanctuary. FKNK places signs on public land telling people where they may and may not go. MEPA and OPM appear to be in a state of paralysis, seemingly fearing to take any action to investigate the crimes committed in Mizieb” said Geoffrey Saliba, BirdLife Malta Campaigns Coordinator.
A sign reading “Public right of way – Reclaim your countryside” was set up by CABS and BirdLife immediately adjacent to an FKNK sign “Picnic area ends here”.
“Mizieb is public land which a small group of people, without any legal agreement, have made their own. This is an injustice to the public in general.” said Saliba.
BirdLife Malta and CABS demanded the immediate establishment of a dedicated wildlife crime unit as part of the ALE, and called for fines for killing of protected species to be increased significantly. Licenses for repeat offender should – without exception – be permanently cancelled.
“Law abiding hunters who do not resort to illegalities need to be shown that their respect of the law is acknowledged by the authorities. The government’s failure to deal firmly and effectively with illegal hunting has so far sent the message to poachers that they can flout Malta’s bird protection laws blatantly.” concluded BirdLife and CABS.
A detailed report, listing all illegal hunting and trapping offences recorded in Malta and Gozo during the international camps by both organisations is to be passed by the organisations to the Office of the Prime Minister and the police.
Footage of illegalities witnessed to date may be seen on: