Besides bird hunting and trapping in Cyprus, this illegal obsession is hugely popular in Malta as well. And, since they joined the EU at about the same time, they too fell under the EU ban of this very destructive past-time.
(for the image at right: Caged birds are used by hunters with guns to attract their wild prey on the island of Malta, an island just South of Sicily)
Birdlife Malta has an article up detailing this year’s story, and in light of trends of recent years – Illegal hunting, worse than last year:
Since the opening of the hunting season on September 1st, the illegal killing of protected species has continued unabated as over the last 4 days Maltese birdwatchers have recorded 186 incidences of illegal hunting.
“We currently have fewer than 20 local birdwatchers in the countryside who are witnessing and reporting illegal hunting in a handful of locations.” said BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, Dr. Andre Raine. “As the numbers of birdwatchers increase during the Raptor Camp that will start in 10 days time, the number of illegal activities we will record is likely to increase drastically. Therefore the actual scale of wild life crimes that we are recording at present is only the tip of the iceberg and is without any doubt much worse than last year.” continued Dr. Raine.
For more on the context of the annual hunt:
In his book, Fatal Flight: The Maltese Obsession with Killing Birds which chronicles the history of Maltese hunting, Natalino Fenech described the annual death toll of three million finches, more than half a million thrushes, 500,000 swallows, 80,000 golden orioles, 18,000 shearwaters and 50,000 birds of prey.
Many other birds have been completely wiped out, all for sport.