Dear Citizens Of Malta, Please Embrace The Ban

Activists say hunters use the currently legitimate spring season for hunting quails (above) to illegally hunt other birds. Photograph: Natalino Fenech

Activists say hunters use the currently legitimate spring season for hunting quails (above) to illegally hunt other birds. Photograph: Natalino Fenech

We have noted previously the odd (to us) behaviors that can be easily interpreted (not only by us) as abominable treatment of birds. It is not only a regional thing in the Mediterranean, this incomprehensible desire to decimate bird populations. From the Guardian, this news on the efforts of a dedicated group of activists:

Vote could see the spring hunting of birds such as quail and turtle doves, which is outlawed in the rest of the EU, banned in Malta

in Malta

Fiona Burrows is the kind of activist that hunters in Malta love to hate.

The Nottingham 30-year-old has been threatened, cursed at, and pushed around while doing the job she says she lives for: stealthily filming the illegal hunting of protected migratory birds and reporting perpetrators to the police.

Burrows takes precautions – she always parks her car facing an exit route and has even bought wigs to avoid detection by hunters – but she thinks these are probably not enough.

“Something bad is going to happen to me sooner or later,” she says. “It’s inevitable.”

The simmering tensions between bird lovers and hunters could reach a tipping point this weekend when a referendum, the first of its kind on Malta, will ask whether hunters should continue to be allowed to shoot quail and turtle doves in the spring, when birds stop for a rest in the country on their journey from Africa to northern Europe.

According to government-compiled data that is based on hunters’ own reports, and disputed by bird activists, about 2,480 turtle doves and 1,688 quails were shot during the 2014 autumn season, the lowest number ever recorded. In the spring, 4,131 turtle doves were shot – or 38% of what is permitted by law – and 637 quail.

Spring hunting is illegal in the rest of the European Union but Malta has been granted special permission to hunt in this period after a controversial 2009 decision by the European court of justice. The permission only allows for the hunting of quails and turtle doves, not any other protected species.

If supporters of a ban succeed, and polls show they have a six percentage point edge, it will be the end of that special status. As well as calling time on a divisive tradition, a victory for anti-hunting campaigners would also be viewed as an expression of defiance against the two main political parties, which activists say have supported the hunting lobby because they fear retribution in elections that can turn on razor-thin margins. Both party leaders have said they do not personally support a ban.

Saviour Balzan, one of the main figures in the pro-ban camp, said: “From our point of view, we are stopping something that neither party has had the metaphorical balls to stop. It is empowering for people from different backgrounds to take things in their own hands and send a message to the political class.”…

Read the whole article here.

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