SNP MEP and Honorary Vice President of the Scottish SPCA Alyn Smith has promised to keep up the pressure on the European Commission to end the mass killing of rare migratory birds in Malta.
Saturday’s referendum on spring bird hunting in Malta saw the pro-hunting campaign win by approx. 2200 votes, meaning the spring hunting season begins today. Malta is the sole EU country to allow recreational spring hunting, as their derogation from the EU Birds Directive allows the hunting of turtledoves and quail.
“Spring hunting in Malta is no sport. In this 20-day hunting period, migrating birds are killed before they can breed. It may not sound like much, especially considering Malta’s small size but in this period hunters are legally permitted to kill 11,000 turtledoves and 5000 quail. That’s not a hunt - it’s a massacre.
“The turtledove has long been a symbol of peace and devotion but now it’s in very real and genuine danger of extinction in the UK.
“Every spring, the migration path of birds takes them over Malta, where they are targeted by hunters who are recreationally killing an eye-watering number of rare birds, both legally and illegally.
“I respect the traditions of other countries but when other rare species of bird are being blasted out of the sky in contravention of the Birds Directive and this is being swept aside under the guise of ‘hunting season’, the Commission has a responsibility to take action.”
Dr Mark Eaton of the RSPB added:
“The turtle dove is in a great degree of danger – if this trend were to continue we could be down to fewer than 1,000 pairs by the middle of the next decade, with complete extinction a real possibility.
“Losing six out of 10 of our turtledoves and three out of 10 grey partridge in five years is nothing short of an unsustainable wildlife disaster.”