Posted by: Dan | February 2, 2010

Illegal Hunting in Malta

Via BirdLife Malta, here’s a short video on illegal hunting of migratory birds over Malta. Warning: it’s not particularly romantic.

Want to help? Sign the petition against illegal hunting…

In Europe and Africa, wild birds and their habitats are protected through the efforts of conservation organisations and governments that are spending millions of Euros to ensure their future.

These same birds migrate from Europe to Africa every autumn, travelling thousands of kilometres to spend the winter in warmer climates. Every spring, they migrate back to Europe to breed and replenish their numbers.

During each journey, the migratory birds are in peril as they fly over Malta, where they continue to be gunned down. Every year, protected species are killed; every spring and every autumn. Law enforcement is under resourced and unable to control the scale of illegal hunting.

There are nearly 12,000 hunters on the small island.

Whereas spring hunting is not permitted under the EU Birds Directive because this is the breeding season and a chance for birds to replenish their numbers, Malta has opened the spring hunting season every year since it joined the EU in 2004.

Over the last years, BirdLife Malta has been instrumental in ensuring that Malta strengthens its bird protection laws through its public and advocacy campaigns.

Spring hunting was not allowed in 2008 and 2009 thanks to an interim measure issued by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Last year, the ECJ found that Malta had been in breach of European law for allowing spring hunting (of turtle dove and quail) without meeting the conditions of a derogation since it became a member state.

In spite of this, the Maltese government is still considering opening what it calls a “limited spring hunting season” in 2010. The government also continues to undermine the true scale and seriousness of illegal hunting.

BirdLife Malta and BirdLife International partnership are determined to ensure that the advances made are not reversed.

This is where you come in.

Unless we protect the migratory ‘flyways’ over the Mediterranean, conservation efforts in Europe and Africa are in vain. This is because170 bird species regularly migrate over Malta. When they reach Malta, these birds are at their weakest. Many will try to rest on Malta and feed to build up their strength for the last leg of their journey. Instead, many meet their death.

Last September, volunteers from BirdLife Malta and another bird conservation group (CABS) found the remains of over 200 protected birds buried in a woodland used as hunting grounds.

The remains included marsh harriers, honey-buzzards and night herons among other protected species. And this case is only one example that reflects the true scale of the illegal killing of protected birds in Malta.

Over the last three years, BirdLife Malta staff and volunteers have suffered intimidation, criminal damage, arson attacks and violence. A BirdLife Ranger has been shot at and injured twice.

Support BirdLife Malta’s campaign against illegal hunting in Malta and help to end the killing of protected migratory birds.



  1. This article is full of inaccuracies. Malta is not in the migration flyaway, Malta is about 300 sq/km and birds get close to the island in extreme bad weather. BLM staff and volunteers are intimidating hunters by trespassing into private property. The ECJ ruled out that Autumn hunting is not an alternative for spring hunting, and Malta like many other countries has the right to derogate. BLM intention is FUNDS so that the foreigners who are managing BLM can sustain their pockets.

  2. Anthony,

    (1) Large souring birds in particular stick close to land as they conserve energy by using thermal updrafts, which do not occur over water. Smaller birds need to land for food and rest too during migration, and they need land to do so.

    (2) “BLM staff and volunteers are intimidating hunters by trespassing into private property”? What are they intimidating them with? BLM volunteers have binoculars and cameras, hunters have rifles and shotguns.

    (3) What the EJC actually said was that although it may be true that hunting of turtle dove and quail in autumn was not as abundant as in spring, the numbers captured according to submissions made by the Maltese government were disproportionate and thus the opening of the spring season was not justified under EU law. And more than that, the beginning of breeding season is the worst possible time to hunt any animals. Let the population reproduce before shooting so many, and you help to ensure that these birds will still be here to hunt for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


%d bloggers like this: