Friday, 31 August 2012

Record number of bird guards to monitor hunting

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has announced that it will send a record 32 bird guards to Malta and Gozo during the autumn hunting season this year. It also said it had offered a drone for use by the police to detect illegal hunting, but does not intend to use one itself this time - although CABS did use one earlier this year until it was shot down.

Volunteer bird guards

The bird guards will be volunteers from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Rumania, UK and the USA.

"Operation 'Honey Buzzard' will take place at the peak of bird migration and volunteers will monitor the flight corridors and night roosts of birds of prey, storks and herons around the clock and report offences against hunting law to the police. Other tasks include the detection and checking of illegal clap nets and cage traps for trapping of Turtle Doves, Quails and protected wader species." CABS said that in order to provide evidence of illegalities for the police, each CABS team will be equipped with video cameras and high-performance spotting scopes.

"In addition CABS offered Police Commissioner John Rizzo the provision - at no cost to the police - of a remote-controlled model aircraft with high-definition video cameras and a qualified operator. This would greatly assist the ALE to detect illegal trapping sites, an important factor in the campaign against illegal trapping," CABS said. This offer was made to the police a month ago but no reply has been received yet.

"There are still two weeks to go and CABS hopes that the police will accept the offer.  CABS does not intend to use such a vehicle this time, pending the outcome of a Magisterial inquiry into their use in spring.

In spring this year CABS and the German TV station RTL were able to detect a number of illegal trapping installations by using a similar flying device.

Turtle dove
CABS said it welcomed the Maltese Government's decision once again to impose an afternoon hunting curfew for the last two weeks of September in an attempt to afford additional protection for the passage of birds of prey in this period. But they were 'appalled' by the recommendation of the Ornis Committee that the trapping of Golden Plover in clap nets should again be permitted this year. "In many parts of Europe the populations of this species have declined massively over the past few years and cannot therefore be sustainably hunted for the time being," states CABS Board Member David Conlin. CABS also points out that the use of clap nets, banned under the EU Bird Protection Guidelines, requires the issue of a so-called derogation. If Malta issues such a derogation it will with certainty be strictly scrutinised by the European Commission."

This autumn International Animal Rescue will continue its ten year collaboration with CABS in the fight against illegal shooting and trapping.

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