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Five cases of protected birds shot within six days of hunting season, NGO claims

At least five cases of illegal hunting incidents have been recorded within the first six days of autumn hunting season, Birdlife Malta has claimed. 

The NGO accused hunters of taking advantage of the open season to illegally target protected species. 

Their statement comes days after a young greater flamingo was shot down in front of tourists at Xwenji in Gozo.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the NGO highlighted another five cases of illegal hunting involving protected species including a falcon, ibis, honey buzzards, harrier and an egret.

Autumn hunting season opened on 1 September and will run until 31 January 2024. Hunting during autumn is permitted for 40 species on land and 12 species at sea. 

Birdlife said that the first illegal incident took place last Saturday, when an injured Eleonara’s Falcon (Bies tar-Reġina) from Tal-Ħarrax, Gozo was shot.

Two days later a flock of 12 Glossy Ibises (Velleran) migrating near Rabat, Malta were also targeted, "with at least one bird seen shot down", the NGO said.

Later a member of the public alerted BirdLife of the presence of the injured ibis in the area, yet the bird had disappeared before the NGO was able to collect it.

The NGO said that a flock of over 60 European Honey-buzzards (Kuċċarda) that came to roost at Buskett, were also targeted around the outskirts of the bird sanctuary.

And an injured Western Marsh harrier (Bagħdan Aħmar) was seen with a dangling leg flying over Buskett, an indication of a gunshot-inflicted injury. 

On Tuesday, the NGO was informed that a resident had come across an injured Little Egret (Agrett Abjad) in the sea off Xatt l-Aħmar with a broken leg. 

“Gozo police were called to retrieve the bird while the finder watched on. A Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) team was also present.”

In a Facebook post, CABS said the bird is currently under close observation. Illegal hunting and trapping incidents are to be reported to BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645 or 7925 6597  or to the police.