Fighting wildlife crime 

Malta is a hot bed of illegal hunting – every year during migration season, hunters use the guise of legal quail hunting to illegally kill turtle doves and other declining species.

They aren’t the only country that have wildlife crime issues obviously, but we have a special connection with them as every year our volunteer Bob Hook joins Birdlife Malta’s team to catch these criminals. This year, he and the Birdlife Malta team were responsible for 2 arrests and the closing down of a trapping site, which is amazing news.

Bob has been working with Birdlife Malta since 2007, going over to Malta for several weeks, twice a year, to work with their 20-strong team and monitor the countryside for any signs of illegal hunting.

BirdLife day highlights from The Malta Independent on Vimeo.

Turtle Doves are a red listed species, and this year both of the arrests involved hunters killing or trapping the birds. One horrific trapping site had live turtle doves attached to sticks which moved up and down to make their wings flap, and lure in others. Unfortunately, the owner of that site was not apprehended but all of his equipment was obviously confiscated and the birds were freed.

The successful arrests were of a hunter who was caught hunting after his license had been revoked, and another man who had tipped him off to the presence of the authorities

They patrol from dawn until 9am, and then from 4pm until dawn – it sounds like hard work but it’s evidently very rewarding:

I do it because I love birds– they are our birds. They are migratory birds that are crossing the Mediterranean to breed and we need to make sure that they can arrive in our country safely.

Bob Hook

Bob recommends writing to your MEP to ask for a total ban on spring hunting if you want to help Birdlife Malta – you can find out a bit more about them on their website, or alternatively you can find out more about wildlife crime in the UK at the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website.

If you’re passionate about wildlife then check out our programme of events for Wildlife Week (26th – 31st May) – we’ve got something for everyone, from talks to walks, crafts to owl pellet autopsies. Most events are free, but some have a small charge to cover costs. If you’ve got any questions, then send us an email or call 01234 767037.