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WBRU uses birdwatcher´s reports “to whitewash own incompetence” – CABS

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WBRU uses birdwatcher´s reports "to whitewash own incompetence" - CABSCABS has accused the head of the Maltese Wild Bird Regulation Unit, Sergei Golovkin, of “falsely taking the credit of CABS efforts to whitewash the total failure of his authority to control illegal bird trapping in spring.”

The NGO refers to a statement sent yesterday by the WBRU to the members of the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), an association of 51 environmental authorities in 36 countries, in which Mr. Golovkin is reporting about Malta´s alleged “enforcement efforts” to “combat illegal finch trapping in spring.s

CABS said that in his statement Golovkin writes: “I wish to emphasise that these enforcement operations are being carried out in a constant and routine manner, and contrary to CABS allegations of “tolerance” towards illegalities, enforcement is effective and produces the desired results.”

The NGO added that to undermine his remarks the head of the WBRU explains that “two trappers have been apprehended” and “17 active illegal trapping sites were located and dismantled, 12 live protected birds used as live decoys seized, and various trapping paraphernalia confiscated” as a “result of police patrols and WBRU´s enforcement action taken over the past two weeks.” The statement was published on the IMPEL network´s homepageWBRU uses birdwatcher´s reports "to whitewash own incompetence" - CABSIn a reply from today CABS said that “the seizures and apprehensions listed by the WBRU to impress their European colleagues are 100% the results of CABS reports to the police. This refers to the number of illegal sites located and dismantled as well as to the seizure of 12 live protected birds.”

“All examples listed in the WBRU´s statement to demonstrate its “effectiveness” are in fact cases which have been documented and reported by CABS. If you remove the cases reported by our teams from the list the government stands there empty-handed,” CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said.

CABS also stressed that the number of 17 seizures or prosecutions, regardless of who reported them, is a minuscule number compared to cases reported by CABS to the police in the last 3 weeks.

“We have mapped a total of 133 illegal active sites on a single morning, 54 of which have already been reported to the authorities with map locations/ photos of the nets installed by the poachers. The other 79 sites are being monitored by CABS teams to produce video evidence for the police to ensure prosecution,,” CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.

She added that “CABS reports have led to the confiscation of at least 21 live decoys while the WBRU in its statement referred to only 12 birds seized.”

“By listing these data the WBRU has given proof that it has either no clue what is going on in the countryside or that it is deliberately downsizing the problem. It´s bad enough that the government does nothing against illegal trapping but it just takes the biscuit that they deceive the EU and IMPEL into believing that there is no problem,” Axel Hirschfeld said adding that “the only ones benefiting from such actions are the poachers.”

Last week CABS announced that it will it will refer Malta to the European Commission for the “de facto tolerance” of illegal trapping in spring.

Photos show a leashed Linnet decoy on illegal trapping site and a CABS volunteers assisting the police in hauling seized trapping paraphernalia, both photos were taken last week on Gozo, Copyright 2017: CABS & Craig Redmond

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