BirdLife Malta said in a statement today that extending the two-week afternoon hunting curfew in autumn would be one of the surest ways to save more birds of prey from illegal hunting.
The curfew in question prohibits hunting after 3pm during the peak period for raptor (bird of prey) migration- between the 15th and 30th September- and was introduced five years ago to prevent illegal hunters from using the cover of the open hunting season to target protected birds of prey as they search for roosting sites in the afternoon.
During a recent meeting of the Ornis Committee, which advises the Government on bird conservation and hunting and trapping issues, BirdLife said it proposed an extension of the existing curfew by one week to cover the first week of October, citing evidence of increased illegal hunting of birds of prey in the afternoon during this period last year.
Explaining the need for an extension of the curfew, Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, said, “many birds of prey and other protected birds are still migrating in the first week of October, but they are not protected by the current curfew. Extending the curfew to cover this period would go a long way to better protecting these birds in practice, not just on paper.”
BLM said that, “last autumn, BirdLife Malta and CABS each separately and independently recorded a threefold increase in the targeting of protected birds during the afternoon period following the lifting of the afternoon curfew on 1st October, when compared with the preceding two weeks, during which the curfew was in place.”