Nov 9, 2017
Malta opened its wild bird trapping season in October, disregarding its EU accession promise to outlaw the practice and a pending case at the European Court of Justice.
The tradition of trapping wild songbirds to keep in captivity is deeply rooted in Maltese society. Trappers use live decoys to attract migrating finches, which are highly prized for their song, to their nets.
But the controversial trapping practice has landed Malta in hot water with environmental NGOs and the EU courts. Not only are finches protected under EU law – like all wild birds – but the use of nets is not a permitted method of capture.
After banning the practice in 2009 to respect the EU’s Birds Directive and uphold a promise it made before joining the EU in 2004, Malta backtracked in 2013. Courting favour with trappers, the newly-elected Labour government reopened the trapping season using a derogation supporters say is justified by the small scale of the activity.
“The Birds Directive is designed to allow these culturally important small-scale traditional hunting activities,” said Ludwig Willnegger, secretary-general of the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE).