The migrant birds illegally shot in Malta


Each spring thousands of migrant birds cross Malta on their way to breeding grounds in Europe, including the UK. In Malta, hunting birds is a cultural tradition, governed by strict rules, but some protected birds are illegally killed. Here a member of conservation group BirdLife Malta watches for migrating flocks.

Hunters are only allowed to shoot two types of bird – quails and turtle doves – within a quota. This bee eater was shot illegally and despite being taken to a vet it could not be saved. Malta’s Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) says it does not tolerate such activity.
Joe Perici Calascione (left) is the president of the FKNK. This year over nine thousand applicants registered for a spring hunting license to shoot quail and turtle doves. Participants are only allowed to shoot a total of four birds, with a maximum of two per day during the spring hunting season.

Despite many hunters obeying these rules, rare birds remain among the victims. This female pallid harrier was found with a broken wing after being shot in Gozo, an island in the Maltese Archipelago. The species is among the most threatened birds in Europe, with only a few hundred breeding pairs living in the continent.

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