View Full Version : Spring Hunting in Malta - Updates

Christopher Cachia Zammit
January 29th, 2008, 04:39 PM
Hi there

I am opening this Thread to post any updates regarding the Spring Hunting Issue.....Right now we are waiting for the EU court to make the desition about Spring hunting....This is from our local English newspaper...... Hope for the best........fingers crossed. Link to article -

Brussels shoots down hunters' proposal
Crucial decision on spring hunting on WednesdayIvan Camilleri in Brussels

The EU executive has rejected Maltese hunters' latest proposal and made it clear that there is no valid reason for spring hunting to continue, a spokesman for the European Com-mission told The Sunday Times.

Sources yesterday said that the Commission will on Wednesday meet to discuss whether Malta should be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the issue.

"We have been warning Malta since its accession to the EU and the time has come to take drastic action. We expect that in less than a year the ECJ will be in a position to give a ruling. The court might also consider imposing interim measures until a final ruling is made," the sources said.

Malta is the only EU country which still permits spring hunting and the Commission has warned on a number of occasions that it will take the issue to court if the Government continues to allow the practice to take place.

The hunters' federation is arguing that the spring season should open by virtue of an exemption - known as a derogation - permitted under the EU's Birds Directive. However, the spokesman said this does not apply as hunters in Malta can already practise their hobby during the autumn season.

In a final gamble to 'save' Malta's spring hunting season, the FKNK last week said that in collaboration with European hunting organisation FACE, it had drawn up a position document "in order to allow the Maltese authorities to grant a derogation for hunting only quail and turtledove during part of the pre-nuptial migration, in small numbers and under strictly supervised conditions, by taking into account the particular bio-geogra-phical and socio-cultural situation of Malta".

However, the Commission reiterated on Friday that this is not possible and spring hunting in Malta has to stop once and for all.

"Spring hunting - that is hunting of migratory birds on their return to their rearing grounds - is prohibited under Article 7 of the Birds Directive. A derogation from that general prohibition is provided for under Article 9, which states that a fundamental condition that must be met before a derogation can be permitted is the requirement that no other satisfactory solution is available," the spokesman explained.

The latest issue raised by the federation has already been addressed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in an almost identical case to Malta's, he added.

The ECJ has looked at this matter and concluded that another satisfactory solution is available where it is possible to hunt at another time of year - during autumn - even if a smaller numbers of birds are available then (Case C-344/03 - Commission vs Finland).

"Following this approach by the court, where a derogation concerns 'small numbers... under strictly supervised conditions' another satisfactory solution exists."

The Government has always maintained it is ready to defend its position before the ECJ, while also declaring that it will respect the court's decision. The Government has not yet decided whether to open the next spring hunting season in March.

Environment Minister George Pullicino last week said that he will wait for the opinion of the Ornis Committee before taking a final decision. Sources yesterday told The Sunday Times that the Government will not be making any move until it knows the outcome of the Commission's decision on Wednesday.



Colin Key
January 29th, 2008, 09:06 PM
Thank you for this Christopher, it is good to see Brussels doing something (anything?)!!

Please keep us all here updated, your participation is VERY much appreciated.



Christopher Cachia Zammit
January 30th, 2008, 08:34 PM
More news about spring hunting -

Brussels insists on immediate action
Ivan Camilleri

The European Commission is today expected to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to stop Malta from opening the hunting season this spring.

In a meeting today, the College of Commissioners is expected to decide to take the Maltese spring hunting case to the ECJ, a Commission source told The Times yesterday. Concurrently, it will file an extraordinary application so that, until the main case is decided, the Maltese authorities will still be barred from allowing hunting next spring.

"We have warned Malta over the past years that, according to the Commission, the continuation of spring hunting is illegal and goes against EU law," the source said.

"As Malta did not come in line and continued to allow spring hunting, we will now have to take extreme measures to make sure that no hunting is allowed in spring or until the proper court case is decided."

Malta had been served with two written warnings by the Commission over this issue, a first formal notice in July 2006 and a reasoned opinion last October.

The island replied officially to both letters but did not specify that it would stop spring hunting as it argues that, prior to accession, it had negotiated the right to apply a derogation to allow hunting for turtle doves and quail.

The Commission source said the expected application will be made under the ECJ''s "special form of procedure" so that an injunction will be issued against the Maltese authorities prohibiting them from granting permission for spring hunting until the original court case is decided.

European court experts said the ECJ normally takes two to three years to decide a case similar to Malta 's. However, as the Commission believes that the issue is urgent it will also ask the court to take interim measures and the court will declare itself in a matter of weeks or even days.

According to the experts, interim measures are granted under strict conditions. The substance of the main proceedings must appear, at first sight, to be well founded. The applicant (the Commission) must show that the measures are urgent and that it would suffer serious and irreparable harm without them. The interim measures must also take account of the balance of the parties' interests and of the public interest.

A spokesman for the ECJ said yesterday an application by the Commission for interim measures is only used in rare cases where there is need for urgent and fast track decisions to be taken. Last year, there were only three cases where applications for the issue of interim measures were filed out of a total of 573 court procedures that were started.

The spokesman said that, according to the procedures, the president of the ECJ may issue an order even before the observations of the opposite party have been submitted. Under normal circumstances, a hearing is held before a decision on interim measures is made.

It is not yet decided how the case against Malta will be dealt with by the ECJ as the Commission is only expected to file its application today. Commission sources told The Times the ECJ is likely to accept the Commission's request in a few weeks' time. This would mean that hunting would not be able to take place in Malta this spring.

Last week, the government said it had not yet decided whether to open the spring hunting season in March and was waiting for the opinion of the Ornis committee on the issue.

Government sources said they were aware of a possible decision to be taken by the Commission but would only comment when the actual decision is made.

The Sunday Times reported last Sunday that the EU executive had rejected an 11th hour proposal by the Maltese hunters' federation (FKNK) to allow hunting on quail and turtle dove "in small numbers and under strictly supervised conditions".

A Commission spokesman had told this newspaper the Commission had already said that "another satisfactory solution is available in Malta where it is possible to hunt at another time of year - during autumn".

Since its accession to the EU, Malta has allowed spring hunting to take place in four spring seasons against the wishes of the European Commission.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________________________

This are the actions taken regarding Spring Hunting in Malta after joined the EU -

July 2006 - The Commission decides to send a first warning letter to Malta over the spring hunting of two species of birds: quails (Coturnix coturnix) and turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur). The Commission claims that the granting by Malta of a derogation between May 1 and 22, 2004 was not in accordance with the strict conditions governing this derogation as "a satisfactory solution to spring hunting existed during the autumn hunting season".

September 2006 - Deadline for Malta 's reply elapses. Commission decides to give Malta a further two months to reply.

March 2007 - Malta sends reply to first warning letter. It says it believes it has acted in line with EU law with respect to the application of the derogation for spring hunting under article 9 of the Birds Directive and has also acted fully within the spirit of the accession negotiations.

Late March 2007 - Spring hunting allowed again. The European Commission decides to send a supplementary letter of formal notice to the government over the issue, widening the scope of the infringement to cover similar derogations granted by Malta for the spring hunting seasons of 2005, 2006 and 2007.

October 2007 - Malta 's arguments rejected. The Commission decides to move to its second stage of legal proceedings sending Malta a reasoned opinion. The Commission states that it believes that alternative solutions to spring hunting exist in autumn.

January 2008 - Malta replies to reasoned opinion.



Christopher Cachia Zammit
January 31st, 2008, 01:37 PM
Hi there

At last the decision is taken.......Malta is going to be taken to EU court over Spring Hunting.....YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS :smile:
For more info - http://www.birdlifemalta.org/view.aspx?id=64



Colin Key
February 2nd, 2008, 05:33 PM
Very good news indeed Christopher. Let us hope that there is a satisfactory outcome to this action.

Please keep the information coming.

Many thanks,


Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 2nd, 2008, 08:20 PM
The hunters' federation (FKNK) yesterday sued the government and the former EU information centre over what it termed as their betrayal on the spring hunting issue.

In an application filed by lawyer Alex Perici Calascione on its behalf, the FKNK asked the court to declare that hunters' rights are being breached by the hunting regulations introduced after Malta became an EU member.

The federation is claiming that the promise made by the government then, through a letter sent by the Office of the Prime Minister to hunters and trappers before the 2003 election, promising that spring hunting would remain unchanged after EU accession, amounted to a formal commitment.

This, the federation argues, gives hunters the acquired right to expect that the legal regime would remain the same and, therefore, that the changes implemented in the years since accession breach this right.

The lawsuit follows the government's statement that it will abide by the decision of the European Court of Justice should it uphold the request by the European Commission to declare spring hunting in Malta in breach of the Birds Directive.

The hunters' federation said it was defending the hunters and trappers whose "legal expectations" had been raised by documented evidence, released by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Malta EU information Centre before EU accession, in connection with the derogation granted to Malta under the Birds Directive with regard to spring hunting.

All documents, the federation insisted, unequivocally stated that through the derogation obtained by Malta, the EU would still allow sustainable hunting in spring to continue provided the parameters of the derogations are respected.

The federation hinted that the lawsuit filed yesterday is likely to be the first in a battle possibly even in the European Court of Justice.

Coming on the eve of an election this can hardly be good news for the government, which is deemed by the federation as having deceived them with the "tacit complicity" of the European Commission about the implications of EU accession on their hobby.

Contacted shortly after the federation filed its application, federation secretary Lino Farrugia described the mood among hunters as "very angry".

Notices posted on the federation's website yesterday morning called on hunters to "wake up" and mount a campaign of protests and civil disobedience against the government. One even suggested a protest in which hunters would bring their hunting dogs along with them outside Castille.

On the possibility of a protest, Mr Farrugia said the committee has still to decide what to do and it would only call a protest if it felt such action would be effective.

Asked about the possible implications for the election, he said there will surely be an effect but one could not say as yet what sort of effect that would be.

"I'm not saying that this will favour one party or the other... even though the Nationalists are the real culprits in this but we haven't seen a ray of hope from the other side either, so one still has yet to see," he said clearly referring to the Labour Party. The MLP has declared it would have no choice but to abide by EU regulations.

Recalling that the federation had changed its statute, which previously barred it from involving itself in politics, he said he did not exclude the possibility of the federation taking sides politically with a party that supported its plea to keep the present hunting regime.

Link - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080202/local/hunters-sue-government-claiming-breach-of-acquired-right



February 6th, 2008, 06:46 AM
Saw the following link on Tom McKinney's blog (http://www.skills-bills.co.uk/birds.htm).

"Oh yeah, and scroll down the link below and vote in the poll on the right of the page (if you're unsure, the answer is 'yes'): http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/index"

They've only had 5000 votes so far - let's see if we can singlehandedly get it up to 6k.

Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 18th, 2008, 09:02 AM
During the early hours of the morning today, three cars belonging to BirdLife Malta volunteers were torched by unknown individuals in Buskett. All three cars were totally destroyed.

Two of the cars belong to BirdLife Malta council members while the third car, exhibiting a diplomatic plate, belongs to an American citizen who started volunteering with the organisation a few months ago. The three volunteers were carrying out scientific ringing studies in Buskett. They arrived on site at around 5.45 a.m. and headed off to a nearby field to start their work. Just a few minutes after, they heard a bang. Within fifteen minutes fire engines and Police had arrived on the scene. BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director Tolga Temuge also arrived at the scene shortly after.

The Police informed BirdLife that the incident was most probably a criminal act. Mr Temuge said: “This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Our reserves as well as the EU Life project site were vandalised, 3,000 trees and shrubs were uprooted and sawed down at FORESTA 2000 and to this day not one single person has been brought to justice. This inaction is giving a dangerous message that these criminals can get away with what they are doing.”

BirdLife said that ten days ago the organisation had sent a letter to the Commissioner of Police and in copy to the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment George Pullicino informing them about messages with an increasingly threatening tone posted on the FKNK website forum. BirdLife had requested action from the part of the relevant authorities but, up till today, the organisation had received no communication from the Police.

“We demand urgent action from the government to bring these criminals to justice. What are they waiting for, someone to get seriously hurt?” Temuge concluded.


February 18th, 2008, 11:33 PM
Hi Christopher, this is incredible. A sign of desperation indeed.

Brian S
February 19th, 2008, 08:36 AM

It is a good job that nobody was hurt and the inaction of the authorities in Malta is just as incredible. The harm it does to the Maltese Government's already tarnished image around the world should, you would think, make them want to do something.

The hunters themselves are criminals and this just goes to prove it to many.

Brian S

Colin Key
February 19th, 2008, 01:45 PM

I had already seen this in an email alert from BirdLife International. One of the worrying aspects is the very short period of time (a few minutes) between the ringers leaving base and this actually happening.

Maybe those responsible have "shot themselves in the foot" this time; this must surely get wide news coverage in Malta and almost certainly turn more of the general public against the pro-hunting viewpoint.

Take care,


Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 20th, 2008, 08:11 AM
Hi there,

This isn't the first time that hunters attacked birders and ringers. Last year the foresta 2000 warden was shot in the face fortunatly he wasn't hurt seriosly...Once 30 hunters abushed 4 birders at buskett and destroyed all there binoculars and cameras and injured the birders.

They do allot of other things such as placing pins under car tyers or block roads with stones...both of these actions were done during the Raptor Camp.

They dont only attack people but they even attack nature reserve..once they threw oil over the Ghadira Nature Reserve fence and into the nature reserve and as there was writen in the article...they destroyed 3000 trees.

Hope this madness stopes....



February 21st, 2008, 06:58 AM
and the police do nothing?

Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 21st, 2008, 07:03 AM
Police do there investigation on the attacks....but unfortunatly most of them are not solved...and no one is taken to court :(



Colin Key
February 21st, 2008, 01:45 PM
Police do there investigation on the attacks....but unfortunatly most of them are not solved...and no one is taken to court :(



Yes, this is pretty much what you come to expect in Southern Europe I'm afraid. Portugal is not in the same league as Malta, Sicily and Cyprus when it comes to hunting and poaching, but we are not too far behind.

I have seen Ospreys and Flamingos shot out of the sky just for target practice, and a couple of years ago my wife and I witnessed someone at Cabo de São Vicente shooting on a non-hunting day, in a non-hunting area and photographed him leaning (literally) on the "No Hunting" sign just after he had shot and maimed a Griffon Vulture (later captured and taken to a vet). I also photographed this guy's 4x4 pickup (and licence plate) and had a couple of good shots of him getting into the vehicle which clearly showed his face (500mm + 1.4TC).

I made some prints and showed them to someone who is "in the know" and asked his advice about how I should proceed with this evidence in terms of prosecuting this man. I was told that this man was a high ranking police officer with the Vila do Bispo GNR and that if I presented a case I would have to give all my details (name, address, etc) and that I would be putting my family and property at risk.

A Prince shooting a couple of Hen Harriers might be a "one off" event, but what I have described occurs every day of the year over here.

Very depressing :realmad:


Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 21st, 2008, 03:04 PM
When we see illegal hunting in malta, the police come to the area were the illegal hunting is happening late and our law enforcers are not that equped with telescopes and binoculars and they are under staffed...and they dont only deal with illegale hunting...but whenever there are rare birds, they do follow them till they leave the maltese coast...In malta they hunt every where, ones there was a Black Kite over a road and the hunter just stoped picked up the gun and shot it....fortunatly the hunter was caught red handed...Some years ago, in spring,there was a big migration of Honey Buzzard coming in from the south of Malta....The hunters started to shot them from the main roads...I saw loads of them being shot from my home towm....very sad view :(



Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 23rd, 2008, 08:32 PM
BirdLife's campaign billboards vandalised
Saturday, 23 February 2008

Two billboards featuring Maltese personalities appealing to Dr. Gonzi and Dr. Sant to stop illegal spring hunting have been vandalised.

The vandalised billboards, which form part of the latest action in BirdLife Malta’s campaign seeing the participation of 13 distinct individuals, are on the Coast Road and on the road from Targa Gap to Rabat. Graffiti have been sprayed onto the Rabat billboard, including the words “Drogi Drug Dealerrs [sic.]” and the poster was torn slightly in one place. On the other hand, the Coast Road billboard has been torn profusely so that in fact, only two of the faces of the four individuals depicted are still visible.

BirdLife’s campaign appeals to Government and Opposition to directly stop spring hunting once and for all, and to not put the weight of the decision on the European Commission and Court of Justice.

Commenting on the spate of vandal attacks that have seen BirdLife as the target over the past year, the organisation recalled the attack on the Ghadira reserve, at the EU LIFE project site, at the FORESTA 2000 site, and finally the arson attack in Buskett which one week ago destroyed three cars belonging to BirdLife volunteers.

“We once again urge the political parties to take a strong stand against these illegal activities that our organisation has long been subject to. To date, not a single person has been brought to justice and this is sending a very dangerous message. BirdLife is committed to its work for the conservation of our natural habitat and will not be silenced by these criminal acts or threats,” Tolga Temuge Executive Director of Birdlife Malta said.


One of the two vandilised BLM bilboards

Link - http://www.birdlifemalta.org/view.aspx?id=74



February 25th, 2008, 12:34 PM
Thank-you for the update, Chris. I would like to be a volunteer for the spring watch, but we must be sailing at that time. Our boat, Peregrine also migrates with the weather. I am unable to join the watch, but I am helping in another way. I just became a BirdLife Malta Member through the link on your post here. I do not consider these adversaries 'hunters'. I think the term my husband used suits them better, Eco-Terrorists. Good Luck and please be careful.

Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 25th, 2008, 08:54 PM
Great news...thanks very much for the support :)

February 26th, 2008, 10:20 AM
Thank-you for the update, Chris. I would like to be a volunteer for the spring watch, but we must be sailing at that time. Our boat, Peregrine also migrates with the weather. I am unable to join the watch, but I am helping in another way. I just became a BirdLife Malta Member through the link on your post here. I do not consider these adversaries 'hunters'. I think the term my husband used suits them better, Eco-Terrorists. Good Luck and please be careful.

Got to thinking about eco-terrorist and thought I'd heard it being used for greenies gone over the top. I looked it up on the net...DUH! Eco-terrorists are greenies gone wild, not bird slaugherers (can't use the term hunter for these people) gone wild. Sorry for the mistake. My husband thought he made up a new word. Shows what happens when you only occasionally plug in to the real world!:laugh::laugh:

Colin Key
February 27th, 2008, 02:37 PM
This link to an article in The Independent might be of interest:



Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 27th, 2008, 08:51 PM
Hi Colin

Thanks for posting the link..



Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 28th, 2008, 06:49 AM
The Ornis Committee said this evening it had decided not to make a recommendation on the opening of the spring hunting season.

The committee said that in view of the fact that the European Court had not decided yet whether to order interim measures on the forthcoming spring hunting, the committee resolved that it should no tmake its recommendation so as not to prejudice Malta’s case, especially Malta’s stand over the legitimacy of a derogation applied by Malta over the past few years.

The committee also said it will seek legal advice from the Attorney General on procedures related to the interim measures.

Link - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080227/local/ornis-committee-puts-off-spring-hunting-recommendation



Christopher Cachia Zammit
February 29th, 2008, 07:44 AM
European Court decision likely after election :smile:
Ivan Camilleri

The decision by the European Court of Justice on a request by the European Commission to issue temporary measures banning hunting in Malta as of this spring is expected to be delivered after the election, Court sources told The Times yesterday.

"The ECJ has already communicated with the Maltese authorities asking them to submit their defence on this case in writing," the sources said. Asked how long was Malta given to file its arguments, the sources said this would normally take two weeks.

The European Commission on Tuesday filed a case against Malta asking the ECJ to declare spring hunting illegal. The Commission is seeking interim measures, barring the Maltese authorities from allowing any hunting to take place during spring until a final decision on the case proper is made. If issued, such interim measures would come into force as from this coming season, which should open by the end of March.

According to ECJ rules on interim measures, Malta will first have to submit its defence in writing. The ECJ will then ask the Commission for a written counter-reply and, subsequently, the Court president can either give a ruling or appoint a public hearing and then decide.

Contacted by The Times yesterday, Attorney General Silvio Camilleri confirmed that his office has just received the Court's notification from Luxembourg.

"The AG's office has already started working on Malta's defence," he said.

This was also confirmed by Environment Minister George Pullicino who said the government is now concentrating on how best to make its case. Asked whether Malta will be demanding a public hearing, Mr Pullicino said a decision will be taken "when we reach that stage".

"For the time being we are concentrating on the written submission we were asked for," he said. Mr Pullicino added that, while Malta will be defending its stand, it will abide by any decision made by the ECJ.

"We have always been very clear about this. We will fully respect the decision by the ECJ, whatever that may be," he said.

The Labour Party has already said it will stick to the decision by the EJC.

Link - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080228/local/european-court-decision-likely-after-election



February 29th, 2008, 07:56 PM
Sometimes I think I just start to think it should be open season on hunters and start taking a bag limit on them. Freaking poaching scum.

Christopher Cachia Zammit
March 3rd, 2008, 06:30 AM
Retain spring hunting... or else, FKNK warns
Mark Micallef

Hunters' federation secretary Lino Farrugia yesterday warned he would no longer advise his members to abide by the law if the spring hunting season is stopped.

Spring hunting is likely to be shelved, possibly forever, after the European Commission filed an urgent court case against Malta over the issue last week.

Speaking at the FKNK's mass rally in Gozo yesterday - ahead of the one in Malta today - he delivered a warning to the political class. Mr Farrugia said stopping the season would not be like introducing a tax that people eventually get used to, but would "remain a sore wound that is re-opened every March".

"Some perhaps don't appreciate this but I was always the first to tell people: Don't break the law, don't hunt out of season and I say it again here. But if, God forbid, come March or April the season is not open, I will not say this anymore. I will not say it..." he insisted, as people in the crowd pre-empted him and started yelling they will still go hunting.

"Dr Gonzi, or who the hell will be in Government after March 8, don't come to me if you break (this promise)".

There was a sizeable crowd, numbering around 200 people. But as Mr Farrugia himself remarked at the opening of his speech, with hunting being such a popular activity on the sister island, Gozitans were hardly there in droves.

Today, a second rally will be organised in Rabat, where a large crowd is expected to attend.

As the verdict from the European Court of Justice draws closer, after the Commission filed a case for urgent interim measures to be taken against Malta to block this year's season, the issue is certainly becoming more of a sore point for the hunters.

Those approached were reluctant to speak to the media while the curt reply of one, when asked what he expected from the Government, was: "Why don't you..." particularly after he found out the comment was for The Sunday Times.

Many sported typical camouflage gear, but few carried placards and only one of them made a vague electoral threat: 'No hunters' vote'. Mostly, the messages stressed how much hunting and trapping meant to them, as with the official FKNK T-shirt, which said on the front: 'Hunting and trapping is our life'.

Most of the speeches sounded like indictments of the culprits that had entrapped the hunters before the 2003 election which decided Malta's entry into the EU, including former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, the former head of the Malta-EU Information Centre Simon Busuttil, and even Saviour Balzan and Joe Sultana, who were involved in the negotiations related to hunting.

The best was left for Birdlife, as expected, repeatedly referred to as "Birdlies" by Mr Farrugia. In a patriotic call that even invoked the George Cross printed on a large Maltese flag on his back, the federation's PRO Joe Perici Calascione said Malta had lost its sovereignty on hunting.

Cheered on by two of Azzjoni Nazzjonali's candidates, who were present at the rally, he made his case for Malta's loss of sovereignty, pointing out that: "The EU Commissioner is Greek, the Birdlife director is a Turk and their biologist is from the Bermudas."

On similar lines, Mr Farrugia even suggested that those lobbying against hunting were not really passionate about birds but in reality simply "hated" hunters and trappers, a statement that was received with resounding applause. He said the European Commission was making Malta, the smallest member state, a scapegoat, to be able to send a message to the other member states.

He even suggested at one point that Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas was taking a stand against Malta because his term would soon expire and he wanted to be remembered for having stopped spring hunting on the island.

Link - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080302/local/retain-spring-hunting-or-else-fknk-warns

Christopher Cachia Zammit
March 3rd, 2008, 05:52 PM
More news about last Sundays FKNK Rally -

FKNK’s message to Gonzi: ‘Don’t complain if hunters break the law’
Sabrina Agius

Hunters were told yesterday that, if the government refused to open the spring hunting season after next week’s election, the federation would not encourage them to respect the law.

“Whereas I usually encourage you not to break the law, this time, if the spring hunting season will not be opened by whoever is in government after these elections, I will not say anything,” FKNK general secretary Lino Farrugia suggestively declared yesterday at a public meeting for hunters in Victoria, Gozo. “And Dr Gonzi: don’t come crying to me afterwards, if hunters do not respect the law…”

Addressing a crowd of some 500 hunters and trappers – many of whom attended the meeting with their hunting dogs – a fiery Farrugia raged against Environment Minister George Pullicino, Birdlife Malta and the editor of MaltaToday, Saviour Balzan.

Farrugia told hunters to reflect seriously before casting their vote next Saturday, as the present government had reneged on its promises to hunters.

“The Government has done its very best to accommodate Birdlife, whom we call ‘BirdLies’, as well as other environmental organisations and the European Union. They have increased restrictions on us hunters to accommodate them and the EU. Pullicino gave them even land owned by the Maltese population to take care of,” Farrugia thundered, with the audience booing loudly at the names BirdLife and Environment Minister George Pullicino.

Lino Farrugia constantly implied that the European Union’s purpose was to use Malta as a scapegoat: “The EU is trying to use us to pass on a message to other EU member countries. The EU is trying to destroy our hobby. It is trying to tell the other EU countries that it wants to stop hunting and trapping in Malta and Gozo. We are being used by the EU because we are the smallest nation and new in the EU.”

Farrugia repeatedly accused PN of failing to keep its promises. But George Pullicino bore the brunt of the onslaught, with Farrugia implying that he had gone out of his way to fork out funds for Environmental NGOs at the expense of the hunters.

MaltaToday editor Saviour Balzan also came in Farrugia’s line of fire. “He is a traitor of the people,” Farrugia bellowed, accusing Balzan of having been given money by the Government to negotiate something else, instead of what had been agreed with the hunters. “Balzan should be investigated for having been given public funds,” the FKNK secretary said.

Also in the FKNK’s black book is BirdLife veteran and former president Joe Sultana, himself a Gozitan, who was described as the “hunters’ and trappers’ traitor” for having renounced his hunting hobby to found The Malta Ornithological Society way back in the 1960s.

“These people (referring to BirdLife enthusiasts) act they way they do not because they love birds, but because they hate hunters and trappers” Farrugia concluded passionately.

On his part, FKNF president Joe Buttigieg reminded hunters of the past 20 years of PN in Government “I have only one thing to tell you. Reflect and think what we have passed through in these past years. “The EU has been knocking at our doors since the 1990’s when a certain Stanley Zammit introduced this concept,” said Buttiegieg.

Buttigieg insisted that partisanship should be left aside, and that hunters should only think about their hobby when it comes to voting.

“PN promised us lots of things since 1998, but since then we have been going backwards and not forward. We have been losing out all the way. We lost hunting at sea, hunting in the afternoon and hunting in the valleys. For all these reasons, we are asking you to reflect.”

Buttigieg closed the meeting by thanking the hunters’ wives, girlfriends and dogs in the same breath.

“Special thanks go to hunters’ wives and girlfriends, and also the dogs who are awaiting the spring season with the same zeal as the hunters themselves,” he said, to a mixture of applause and barking from the crowd.



Christopher Cachia Zammit
March 10th, 2008, 09:01 PM
Army maritime personnel chased and arrested four hunters after a high-speed chase at sea yesterday morning, the Armed Forces of Malta said.

The four men were first spotted behaving suspiciously off Ta' Ċenċ by members of the Maritime Squadron's Rapid Deployment Team who were on a routine anti-illegal hunting patrol.

As they approached the speedboat it fled at high speed and the team gave chase in their interceptor craft. Despite a moderate force three north Westerly swell and the suspects' 225 horse-power engine, they managed to catch the hunters after a 30-minute chase that ended off Dingli cliffs.

They were detained and found to be in possession of hunting equipment. The men had also been seen ditching a number of items overboard, some of which were recovered, the AFM said.

The men, hailing from Siġġiewi and Mosta, were handed over to the police for investigation.

The hunters boat is the red one



March 10th, 2008, 09:18 PM
Good job! Maybe the authorities should confiscate (permanently) all hunting equipment and take away the right to buy new gear for a number of years for anyone caught with any hunting paraphernalia during the non-hunting season. Thanks for the update Christopher.

Colin Key
March 11th, 2008, 03:08 PM
Thanks for that info Christopher. The sentence: "The men, hailing from Siġġiewi and Mosta, were handed over to the police for investigation." is the bit that bothers me; I suppose it depends on whether the police concerned are "pro" or "anti" hunting as to what happens next?

Such a shame that these Army vessels are not armed with torpedoes and the personnel themselves with AK47s.

Please let us know if you find out any more about this incident and the fate of the arrested hunters.


March 11th, 2008, 09:02 PM
Such a shame that these Army vessels are not armed with torpedoes and the personnel themselves with AK47s.

Give the hunters a taste of their own nasty medicine. I like the thought of that.

Christopher Cachia Zammit
March 23rd, 2008, 11:14 PM
Another artical from a local news paper -

'God forbid' there is no spring hunting - FKNK
Birdlife receives 180 reports of illegal trapping or hunting since March 8
Herman Grech

The hunters' federation said it could not rule out that some of its members could cause trouble if there is no spring hunting season this year.

Accusing the European Commission of making a U-turn on Malta's 'special' agreement on hunting, FKNK general secretary Lino Farrugia told The Sunday Times: "God forbid the hunting season doesn't open this spring!"

Asked if the hunters' federation was fearing trouble if spring hunting is stopped, Mr Farrugia said: "I do not rule out anything. Everybody is stunned by what is going on. Nobody can understand our love for hunting."

The European Commission has formally asked the ECJ to declare spring hunting illegal and issue an urgent decision, or interim measures barring the Maltese authorities from allowing any hunting to take place during spring until a final decision by the court.

The decision is expected in the first few days of April. The Ornis Committee decided not to pronounce itself in light of the pending court proceedings.

In the meantime, messages posted on the hunters' federation forum clearly show they are angry at the prospect of having to leave their shotguns at home in the coming weeks.

One message posted yesterday said: "On March 25, I will ignore (Gonzi) and I will be in my hunter's hide. And I declare that if I see a birdwatcher in my area, especially if he is a foreigner, he is in trouble. Don't touch hunting or you'll regret it."

Some said it was high time for hunters to hold street protests, while others called for boycotts.

In the meantime, the hunters' federation is organising a nationwide petition in a last ditch bid to stop the European Commission halting spring hunting.

The federation said that although a special arrangement exists between the Commission and Malta over hunting in spring - which already restricts hunting to turtle dove and quail - Brussels had started legal proceedings against Malta and was pressing for a ban.

Mr Farrugia said that though the Ornis Committee was meant to recommend the dates of the hunting season four weeks before the implementation date, the minister concerned may actually give the go-ahead himself. Since the new Cabinet was sworn in, the Prime Minister is directly responsible for the environment portfolio.

Mr Farrugia said Maltese hunters were being discriminated against, claiming that Slovakia (another EU state) was being permitted to hunt a particular species (woodcock) between March 15 and April 15.

When contacted, Birdlife executive director Tolga Temuge said it was evident that the different authorities were conveniently blaming Brussels.

He said the only agreement reached by Malta during the accession negotiations was a five-year transition period to phase out trapping of seven finch species by the end of 2008.

He said Malta was facing a court case not because the Commission had "changed its mind", but due to the lack of scientific evidence to substantiate the Government's claim that there were not enough Turtle Dove and Quail to hunt in both spring and autumn.

"This is not village politics - you don't get into the EU and then expect to do as you please," Mr Temuge said.

Mr Temuge claimed that Birdlife had received some 180 reports of illegal trapping and hunting since polling day on March 8.

"The FKNK has a responsibility to tell its members to abide by the law or else we're going to have anarchy... Once there is a declaration that spring hunting is banned, then anybody with a shotgun in the countryside should be considered as an armed criminal," he warned.

Mr Temuge said it would be political suicide for the Government to forge ahead with opening the spring hunting season, once the Commission had now made clear it was illegal. Besides, he said, the electorate was evidently against it.

Link - http://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080323/local/god-forbid-there-is-no-spring-hunting-fknk


Colin Key
March 24th, 2008, 02:52 PM
All this verbosity worries me - it is time that the EU Parliament got off its @rse and actually implemented some of the laws it creates and impose real and effective penalties for the non-conformers.


Joe stockwell
March 25th, 2008, 08:13 PM
wheather i am nieve i don't know but i didnt know things had gotten this bad, a couple of years ago now i was in southern brittany, france and stumbbled across some ortolan buntings but to my disgust some french b@st**d shot the poor little buggers from here to kingdom come for no reason whatsoever.

in the same year there was an osprey realeased here which my dad witnessed flying off fine it made its way south to make a sticky end as it rached portugal with 14grams of lead going into it!

but i thaught theese were a one off, obviously i am wrong.

chris butterworth
March 28th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Hi Christopher,
It's great to know that there are people on Malta - probably the majority- that are more concerned about saving what little wildlife is left and not having to prove how macho they are by blowing birds out of the sky with shot guns. Italian conservationists had the same problems with criminals ( I noticed the police only thought the burning of the cars was a criminal act! ) but , with dedication, they seem to be winning. Keep up the good work and remember - YOU'RE RIGHT!

Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 2nd, 2008, 02:49 PM
Hi there...sorry for the long silence but I have just finished my Easter Holidays and I have been doing allot of birding...Got some nice species such as Spoonbill and Pallid Harrier...Great time.

A decision was suppost to be taken by EU regarding Spring hunting...but the court decided to take a decision next week...Fingers Crossed..



Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 8th, 2008, 08:27 PM
Spring Watch is about to start...4 days left.


Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 15th, 2008, 08:41 PM
Last Monday (14/4/08) there was a great passage of turtle doves...and many of which didnt have the chance to make back to europe because of iresponsable poachers :(

BirdLife complains of 'mayhem and anarchy' in the Maltese countryside

Mayhem and anarchy are reigning in the Maltese countryside as poachers take the law into their hands and open fire on migrating birds, BirdLife Malta claimed this afternoon.

"As BirdLife Malta’s Spring Watch Camp kicked off on Sunday so did the rampant illegal shooting as poachers invaded the countryside opening fire at migrating birds since Monday morning," the society said.

It said Spring Watch volunteers were also targeted by individuals with threats and insults pouring onto them.

"One of the teams in Delimara on Monday afternoon was also surrounded by aggressive individuals and ordered to leave the area although the team was on public land."

André Raine, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager and Spring Watch Camp Coordinator said Monday morning was particularly bad for illegal hunting activity.

“So far over the last two days our teams in different locations have counted more than 1,050 shots. Delimara was a particularly bad area, with 486 shots counted over a four hour period on Monday morning alone. These came from numerous individuals shooting throughout the peninsula. Our observation teams have shown that this is not simply a handful of poachers breaking the law, but rather numerous individuals actively shooting in the countryside as if this is simply another open season.”

He asked how the government could claim that it could control spring hunting when it had absolutely no control over illegal hunting.

He said illegal shooting was less on Tuesday morning compared to the previous day as the bird migration was much slower due to the change in weather conditions.

BirdLife said that over the last two days its teams had witnessed birds flying by with visible injuries, including Turtle Doves (Gamiem) and Night Herons (Kwakk), as well as a Common Kestrel (Spanjulett) being shot down in Wardija in front of the birdwatchers’ very eyes.

“Even though the Police are responding to our calls very quickly they are too short-staffed to have a serious impact on this level of criminality.”

BirdLife explained that shooting was in fact stopping as soon as the poachers saw the police cars approaching, but would resume again as soon as the police left the area.

Markus Nipkow, Ornithology and Bird Conservation officer for NABU (BirdLife Germany) who is taking part in the Spring Watch Camp said: “Our conservation work in Germany will not succeed if migratory birds are slaughtered over the Maltese islands, as it is evident that the conservation of our common natural heritage lies beyond national borders. We are aware that an overwhelming majority in Malta is against spring hunting but we fail to understand why the Maltese government is reluctant to put an end to this unsustainable practice.”

BirdLife said it had also been receiving numerous reports of illegal shooting from members of the public throughout the Maltese islands.

Joseph Mangion, President of BirdLife Malta, said that what was being witnessed was not surprising when one recalled statements of the hunters' association administration that targeted the Spring Watch attendees even before they arrived in Malta.

“Why is the FKNK administration so scared of peaceful, non-violent birdwatchers who are here to witness bird migration and report illegal activity? One would expect them to sit with us and report illegal activities too if they genuinely are against illegal hunting. It is about time that this government acknowledges this fact.”

He appealed to the government to immediately take all the necessary actions to bring back law and order in the countryside.



Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 15th, 2008, 08:54 PM
BirdLife's Spring Watch Camp kicks off
Monday, 14 April 2008

Over 150 people from all walks of life joined BirdLife Malta’s Spring Watch teams yesterday for a stroll in the countryside, this being the first spring without hunting since Malta joined the European Union in 2004.

Numerous environmental organisations joined ornithologists participating in BirdLife’s Spring Watch camp for this walk, including members of the British Residents' Association, Din l-Art Helwa, Nature Trust, and the Ramblers Association. The international ornithologists are here to document migration over this two-week period as well as to report on any illegal hunting and trapping activity they witness. In all, over 35 international participants will be joining Spring Watch, the first camp of its kind to be held in Malta at this time of the year. This camp will also see a number of Maltese participating too.

The hike on Sunday started out at the Red Tower in Mellieha and took in some of the FORESTA 2000 project, which is run by BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa and the PARC Department. BirdLife Malta officials were on hand to explain interesting information on the flora and fauna that could be observed during the walk.

“This was indeed a true celebration, as many people turned up to walk through the countryside while admiring the miracle of our natural heritage undisturbed,” explained Tolga Temuge, BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director. “It is clear that the Maltese people truly do appreciate their wonderful environment, when given the chance. Government must put much more effort into safe-guarding what is left of the Maltese countryside for its inhabitants and visitors to the islands to be able to enjoy to the full, now and in the future,” concluded Temuge.

Link - http://www.birdlifemalta.org/view.aspx?id=84



Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 17th, 2008, 08:09 AM
Shotgun stashed illegally in Bird Sanctuary
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A team of volunteers participating in BirdLife Malta's Spring Watch Camp today discovered a shotgun stashed away illegally at Salina following an anonymous tip.

Salina is a Bird Sanctuary and the area is very close to a public area where Maltese families with children spend many hours picnicking. The Spring Watch team called the ALE upon their discovery of the weapon who immediately responded to the report and headed down to Salina where they uncovered the shotgun which contained two cartridges, rendering the find even more alarming as anyone could have come across the weapon, including children. The Police discharged the shotgun and took possession of it.

Police displaying shotgun. N. Tschovikov

To view the footage taken click here (http://www.birdlifemalta.org/photos/otherfiles/382.wmv)

Red-eyed Video
April 17th, 2008, 05:50 PM
Just putting this back on the front page. Keep up the brave work for the sake of birds & mankind if that's not a misnomer in itself!

Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 18th, 2008, 02:02 PM
Another shotgun found
Thursday, April 17

This morning, one of the teams stationed at Ras il-Pellegrin at Fomm ir-Rih heard 20 shots, albeit migration having been slow. in fact, the team observed one individual in a hunting hide and two other suspicious persons with hunting dogs roaming the area. While shots were heard the team did not have visual on the hunters when they were fired. The A.L.E. were contacted and their response was exellent, turning up within 15 minutes even though the location is a remote one on the island of Malta. Shortly after having called the A.L.E. (but prior to their showing up) the two suspicious individuals were observed hiding a shotgun in the foliage and running off in a Jeep. The A.L.E. found the shotgun, which once again was loaded just like the one found in Salina yesterday (see below). The shotgun's registration number was taken down and the Police intend to proceed to an arrest.

Click here to view footage of the search. (http://birdlifemalta.org/photos/otherfiles/385.wmv)

April 18th, 2008, 05:45 PM
Thanks for the reports Cristopher. I thank you and all there trying to protect the birds. They belong to everyone and the next generation might like to have a chance at being birders. With enough peer pressure, the old, irresponsible ways will eventually subside.

April 19th, 2008, 07:20 PM
Thanks for the reports Cristopher. I thank you and all there trying to protect the birds. They belong to everyone and the next generation might like to have a chance at being birders. With enough peer pressure, the old, irresponsible ways will eventually subside.

Let's hope so.

Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 21st, 2008, 05:01 PM
Spring Watch Camp volunteers face increasing threats and attacks

Intolerance towards BirdLife Malta and volunteers of the organisation’s Spring Watch Camp continues to be rife around the Maltese islands as one of the teams’ cars this morning was the target of a vandal attack up in Gharghur. The same team’s observation post was also covered with body pieces of at least two cats.

The car’s windscreen was smashed by a hard object which resulted in cracks and two of the tyres were cut with a knife. When the team arrived on site at 6 a.m. there were other cars parked there but none of them were targeted except for the one belonging to BirdLife’s volunteers.


BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager Dr. André Raine said: “The Police came along shortly and our team leader explained that two separate individuals had hurled abuse at the team earlier that morning. One of the individuals was observed getting out of a car with a gun and heading into the fields while the other person was in his hunting hide.”

In another incident a separate Spring Watch Team that went to Nadur tower in Malta found pieces of wood hidden in the grass with long nails sticking out of them last Friday. These ‘implements’ result in multiple punctures once cars drive over them with the evidence cleverly concealed, as the wood breaks away completely once the nail pierces the tyre.


Furthermore, various teams have been subjected to verbal abuse at different locations since the beginning of the Spring Watch Camp. One of the teams at Delimara in the afternoon on Monday, April 14 was surrounded by aggressive individuals and ordered to leave the area, although the team was on public land. A team posted at Fomm ir-Rih in the morning on Sunday, April 20 was approached by a group of individuals who had previously been observed hiding a shotgun in the foliage. These individuals blocked the road with a pickup truck so that the Spring Watch Camp participants could not leave the area and demanded to see the video footage taken by the Team Leader. One of the Maltese volunteers on the team spoke to them to diffuse the situation and on informing them that the Police were on their way, these individuals left the area.

BirdLife Malta appealed to the government to take all necessary measures to handle the situation in the countryside.

April 21st, 2008, 05:48 PM
Hi Christopher,
I hope the local and national papers are printing this news. Leaving parts of mutilated cats should be enough to disgust most people and put the bird slaughterers in a very bad light. I can not call these people hunters. Hunters do not kill anything that moves just to kill it, and most understand ecology. I think sociopaths would be a better term for these demented people. Be careful.
With You in Spirit,

Brian S
April 22nd, 2008, 02:01 PM

I am trying not to despair too much, and wondered if you could say whether the level of hunting is lower compared with previous years. I hope that it is and that things will continue to improve.

I wish all of those trying to stop the illegal hunting well.

Brian S

Colin Key
April 22nd, 2008, 09:02 PM
It is this word "hunting" that I find very depressing. What is currently occurring in Malta is "shooting", and it is being done as an expression of disgust by the Maltese who fear that their "hunting" rights are about to be withdrawn.

In the old days the poor people were allowed to hunt for food to support their families. Nowadays it is a handed-down, God-given right to go out and shoot anything that moves.

In Portugal hunting days (during the season) are Thursday, Sunday and Public Holidays. These morons are out at dawn, dressed in camouflage and festooned with belts of cartridges, and they congregate at the bars at lunchtime to compare their "haul" (thrushes and larger are kept for the pot, or for sale) which is mostly just dumped into the "lixo" (waste) bins - Goldfinches, warblers, etc. by the thousand.

You will have to use your imagination as to what I would do to these cretins, given the chance.

Colin :hmpf:

chris butterworth
April 23rd, 2008, 09:05 AM
Hi Christopher,
I've done over 20 years as a volunteer protecting roosting waders and, at times, you might think you'll never get anywhere, but keep at it, you do finally get through to people. About the 'hunters', Einstein said ' There are only two things that are infinite, the Universe and the stupidity of people, and I'm not sure about the former!'

Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 24th, 2008, 11:02 PM
BREAKING NEWS... Maltese 2008 spring hunting season banned by European Court


Link - http://birdlifemalta.org/view.aspx?id=91



Brian S
April 25th, 2008, 01:14 PM


I hope that the 'hunters' live by the rules and, more importantly the government and police have the courage to enforce it.

Brian S

Colin Key
April 25th, 2008, 10:56 PM
Great news Christopher; as Brian says, let us hope that this decision is enforced by the local authorities.

All the best,


Christopher Cachia Zammit
April 28th, 2008, 07:26 AM
Hi there

Thanks for the support

Here I am posting some videos of incidents that happened during the camp...

1. Uncovering of caltrop hidden in grass at Nadur Tower (Malta) on April 18 to puncture tyres (http://www.birdlifemalta.org/photos/otherfiles/403.wmv)

2. Vandalism on car at Gharghur on April 21 (http://www.birdlifemalta.org/photos/otherfiles/392.wmv)

3. Hunter verbally abusing Spring Watch team on April 14 (http://www.birdlifemalta.org/photos/otherfiles/390.wmv) (NOTE: video contains insultive language)