Since the opening of the autumn season on 1 September, BirdLife Malta has received 62 shot protected birds- nearly double the total of 33 shot protected birds recovered over the same period last year. This is the worst autumn hunting season since the organization started keeping detailed records of shot birds in 2007.
Over 60% of the shot protected birds were birds of prey, including rare species in Europe such as the Pallid Harrier.
Furthermore during BirdLife's international bird monitoring Raptor Camp the conservation organization recorded an additional 124 injured protected birds in flight with visible gunshot injuries, and a further 106 protected birds being shot at or shot down by illegal hunters.
Commenting on the present situation, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara said â€œWe have been witnessing widespread and commonplace illegal shooting and killing of protected species this autumn. The nearly 300 protected birds we witnessed being killed or received are just those we could record with our limited resources. We suspect that with the shot birds directly reported to the authorities and the unrecorded incidences, thousands of protected birds have been killed this autumn.
The flood of dead and injured protected birds received during the autumn hunting season has overwhelmed the Maltese authorities to the extent that the National Museum of Natural History, the Malta Police Force, as well as MEPA have no more capacity to store the carcasses of shot birds.
BirdLife Malta alone recorded 567 incidences of illegal hunting at 40 different locations in Malta and Gozo during its Raptor Camp in September.
With a daily average of just 3 police vehicles observed patrolling the countryside, the mean response time to illegal hunting incidents reported to police by Raptor Camp teams was 50 minutes.