The Environment Minister’s latest move to improve our environment is to prolong hunting and trapping times at the Majjistral Park from 10am to 12.30pm and trapping times from 10am to 2.30pm.

Environmental NGOs have also heard that these amendments have come into force following back-room negotiations between the hunting federation, the Environment Minister and Parliamentary Secretary since 2013.

Am I surprised? Not much! But only because I’m cynical and have no faith in most politicians. If I was one to expect common decency or even logical actions from politicians then not only would I be disappointed but also very much surprised by this move.

You see, since the opening of the Autumn hunting season – 1st September –  more than 45 protected birds have been shot dead and many more have been injured by hunters.

Another time, in another universe, the season would have been closed by now, not because all hunters are to blame but because it is the only way to protect more protected birds from being killed or injured.

Clearly enforcement is not working; there isn’t enough manpower to stop the massacre, and until then, it should be lives, not hobbies and traditions, that should be protected.

But of course, many will argue that these are not human lives, and therefore count less – a reply to which is unprintable!

So, not only is the season not closed, but hunters and trappers are rewarded with more time to hunt and trap at Majjistral Nature and History Park, which by the way is mostly public land which does not belong to hunters and trappers, but who are given the privilege to hunt and trap across most parts of the Maltese Islands.

During a meeting with Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri, last Monday 23rd October (only 4 days before this shameful extension was announced), Carina Camilleri asked Hon. Camilleri how he could possibly be an advocate for animal rights when he himself is a hunter.

He explained that he never quite hunted much, though he is a licensed hunter. He then went on to say that his passion is actually trapping… like that makes it better!

Carina explained that trapping is essentially the cruel act of trapping a wild bird and sentencing it to a life in prison, and that the ‘hobby’ does not sit well with someone who’s supposed to be looking out for animals and their welfare. But the Honourable Clint Camilleri justified this by saying that most trappers have an aviary and that trapped birds are only put in small cages for the duration of the season and then released into a bigger space.

I will leave the scrutiny of that reasoning with you, especially now that you can also balance it with this latest decision to prolong hunting and trapping times at Majjistral Park.

In the meantime, all we can do is to keep up the pressure. Sign this petition today.

Update (15th Nov) : Majjistral Park Federation says new regulations extending hunting hours ‘illegal’

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  • I am not surprised. I had “warned” you.
    I have had occasion to dialogue, albeit briefly, with the politicians appointed to look after animal welfare since 2004. Their attitude is no different.
    They only come forward with “gimmicks” to promote their presence, particularly pre-elections.
    It is a pity that they do not accept suggestions from us animal welfare NGOs.
    I have no doubt that he Animal Welfare officials would like to do their best.
    Picking up animals from the streets only if they are injured never made sense to me. On the other hand they seem adamant to stop keeping rescued animals at their Ghammieri pound. It would probably be a relief to the animals. Animal sanctuaries would willingly cooperate if reasonable financial assistance would be forthcoming from the government.
    We are charities and already perform miracles to care for those animals which we can accommodate suitably. No sanctuary could survive were it not for the generosity of the general public. We get no income for the mission that we had committed ourselves to carry out.
    I had once suggested that local council should who responsibility for stray dogs and cats in their own region. They would also be entrusted with enforcement.
    Wardens and police officers are “de facto” animal welfare officers, I hope that they are finally aware of that! There was a time they looked at me in disbelief when I reminded them of this role. But they still seem to pass the buck to Animal Welfare.
    Enforcement can only be realistically done by applying administrative fines, as you so rightly suggested too. I have proposed this ever since mandatory registration was introduced.
    An interim period of issuing a warning prior to slapping out a fine might be the best way kick start firm enforcement.
    Over a year on, the introduction of the pre-election promised of providing free veterinary treatment for sanctuary animals is still being “studied”.
    The other promise of giving a grant to whoever adopts a sanctuary dog must be somewhere in the pipeline too. I cannot understand what good can come out of that. Responsible people who adopt our dogs, We only give away dogs to responsible people. They usually give us a donation in recognition of our having cared for the dog and also in appreciation of our work.
    Like you, I always feel disappointed at the attitude of the government. I can only wonder what the way forward could be. We aren’t suggesting the impossible, are we!

    • Alison Bezzina says:

      No Mark we certainly are not suggesting the impossible. This is one problem where money will make a whole lot of difference, so for a country that can’t stop bragging about its surplus it should be a no brainer. The problem is simple – for some reason, the powers that be do not see it as a priority.

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