Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 12:21
BirdLife slams government as lacking 'moral value or strength'
Updated 4.55pm - BirdLife reacts to government rebuffal
BirdLife Malta has called on the Prime Minister to suspend the autumn hunting season with immediate effect after two protected black storks were illegally shot dead yesterday.
The NGO's request was rebuffed within hours by the government, which in a statement issued by the parliamentary secretariat for animal rights said that it would only consider such requests if they were made by its Ornis Committee.
BirdLife's request came after two black storks (Ċikonja Sewda) were shot while flying over Gozo yesterday. One was instantly killed and picked up by a hunter, while the other made it to Malta and joined three White Storks (Ċikonja Bajda) before succumbing to its injuries.
The carcass of the second stork was handed to police, while BirdLife officials have handed details of the hunter who recouped the first bird to authorities, the organisation said.
Another White Stork seen earlier in Gozo also appeared to have been injured, and the NGO said it was also investigating claims that a Honey Buzzard had been shot down over Ħal Far this morning.
In its original statement, BirdLife argued that "illegal hunting in Malta is yet uncontrolled" and that closing the hunting season until October 15 would give protected birds such as the storks a safe passage as they migrate south.
"This would not be a collective punishment but a method of safeguarding the birds," the organisation argued, saying that if fines did not protect birds, "more drastic measures would be expected."