January 18 2004
Were the spoonbills killed?
St Paul’s Bay
to the latest alleged killing of two spoonbills at the Ghadira Nature
Reserve, I would like to comment on certain points that have been overlooked.
There’s no question that some hunters do break the law, and in
some instances to extreme extents, but it is very unfair that now that
two birds went missing the hunters are blamed. Although some evidence
was found on the site of the alleged crime, it is only circumstantial.
In my opinion, the evidence found points nowhere, because the cut fence,
wooden plank and tire marks could not be related. The only clue that
something was amiss was the claim by birdlife that some blood stained
white feathers were found.
What the readers and press do not know is that feathers drop off as
soon as they are stricken, so they fall off unstained. Feathers only
get stained when they remain attached and blood exits the body. It is
very unlikely that blood stained feathers dropped off on site because
the blood does take a while to exit, because of the thick feathers.
And if blood does exit quickly and stain the feathers, the same blood
restrains the feathers from falling off.
Although some persons have been questioned, the police seem to be baffled
by the lack of true evidence. Because of Malta’s small size, the
police usually catch the culprits easily, but this time the investigations
On the other hand, why is everyone blaming the hunters? To have a hunting
licence you have to have a clean police conduct certificate. Does everyone
think that individuals in the right state of mind go to such extreme
extents to catch a bird or two illegally? All that hassle when they
risk being sent to prison! So at the end of the day, if the birds were
actually caught, it could result that unlicensed individuals using unlicensed
guns could be the culprits.
As usually happens in Malta "innocent unless proven guilty"
does not stand: you are immediately blamed for a crime that is still
assumed. In my opinion the Police should investigate the authenticity
of this story. Hunting associations condemned the alleged crime, but
still questioned the incident. Did everyone forget that birds have wings?
These creatures were free to go at any time they pleased.
You may ask; "and what about the evidence?" It may have been
fabricated, because let’s face it, everyone knows to what extents
Birdlife and other associations would go to see hunting in Malta completely
abolished. Birdlife themselves proved how adamant they are to see spring
hunting eradicated. In their statement about the Spoonbill issue they
concluded by saying that spring hunting should be abolished. What does
bird migration in winter have to do with spring hunting?
Birdlife wish to see spring hunting abolished not to protect the two
hunted species, turtle doves and quails, but because along with these,
many other birds migrate, including birds of prey. Birdlife should push
to limit spring hunting slightly less, include game wardens and force
the authorities to increase the penalties drastically.
While praising every environmental association for its essential work,
it is high time to see who is really damaging Malta’s name, the
few hunters who still break the law, or some environmentalists, along
with the press, who make a whole chronicle worldwide about a minor incident.
Let us not forget that these things happen everywhere.