Operation Nest in peace: 24 illegal trapping sites dismantled, say CABS
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The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has said in a statment “that in the last 10 days its investigations have led to the dismantling of 24 active trapping sites on Malta and Gozo. Numerous trapping paraphernalia such as clap nets, mist nets and cage traps as well as live Greenfinches, Linnets and a Robin have been confiscated by the authorities.”
CABS added that “at least 7 trappers were filmed actively trapping or have been apprehended by the police. The men are expected to be arraigned in court soon. A video summary of the evidence filmed by CABS and the action taken by the police has been published on YouTube today.”“The footage shows birdtrappers on the run as well as police officers confiscating trapping equipment and live birds in St. Thomas Bay, Marsaxlokk, Dingli, Gharghur, Xghaijra, Manikata, San Gwann and near the Freeport.
CABS criticised that the A.L.E. office “repeatedly refused to follow up CABS´ reports with the argument that they had orders only to take action if the report is filed at the police headquarters. “On certain days it was nearly impossible to file a realtime report.”
CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld notes. “According to CABS the average response time of the police was 71 minutes after the Bird Guards alerted the police headquarter ranging from 20 to 150 minutes.”
Hirschfeld said, “most of the trappers had enough time to collect their birds calmly and to disappear before the police arrived. In a country where the government claims to have a zero tolerance police towards poaching this situation is absolutely unacceptable.”
“A very sad example of the police´s obvious inability to respond in good time was given yesterday afternoon when a CABS team tried to report two active finch trapping sites near Marsaxlokk. Neither the headquarters, nor the office of the ALE nor the local police station reacted to the report. CABS said that its volunteers have been transferred from one police office to the other more than 15 times before the ALE arrived two and a half hours after their first call,” CABS said.
“When the ALE officers arrive on site in response to our reports they work in a professional and efficient manner, which we are grateful for. However the problem seems to lie in a breakdown of communication, since officers on several occasions said they had only received our report some minutes ago, when our original police report had been made more than an hour ago in several instances. This is an indication that the reports we make are not being passed onto the field officers fast enough, suggesting that the current system of reporting is inadequate,” said CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows
CABS announced that it will contact the Commissioner of Police “to discuss how a quicker response of the police can be guaranteed in the future.”
The organisation said that their operation ´Nest in peace´ will continue until May.
Photographs by CABS