A leading British naturalist has accused the Maltese authorities of failing to prevent large-scale illegal shooting of migratory birds by hunters.
Chris Packham, who is in Malta, said rare species were being targeted, and hunters were even shooting Montagu’s harrier birds on the ground at night. “It’s a desperate situation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. A Maltese wildlife official insisted that patrols to stop illegal hunting had been stepped up.
Malta has an exemption from the EU Birds Directive, allowing its hunters to shoot turtle doves and quail during the spring migration, a crucial stage in the birds’ life cycle. But according to Mr Packham, turtle doves were vulnerable, with their numbers down by 95% in the UK. Malta is the only EU country to have a recreational spring hunting season allowing birds to be shot.