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Reference Number: PR140840, Press Release Issue Date: Apr 22, 2014
​Since the start of the spring hunting season on 12th April, several thousand migrating protected birds were observed over the Maltese Islands, including several species of ducks, Marsh Harriers, Montagu’s Harriers, Kestrels, Black Kites, Honey Buzzards, Eleonora’s Falcons, Golden Orioles, Cuckoos, Nightjars, Swifts, Swallows, Flycatchers and even a very rare Long-legged Buzzard.
Around 70 law enforcement officers from the Malta Police Force and the Armed Forces of Malta maintained a steady field deployment between 0500 and 1400 hours, whilst a field complement of around 40 enforcement officers continued regular patrols until 2130 hours. Further patrols were also carried out at specific locations at night-time. Officials from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit continued to provide technical assistance with the enforcement operation on a 24 hour basis, and have also carried out separate field inspections and patrols around specific locations.  Surveillance was supported by the unmanned aerial vehicle which flew over a dozen sorties over specific locations, over protected areas during times when hunting was not permitted.
Until Sunday 20th April, officers carried out several hundred routine field patrols and inspections, as well as a total of 1,003 spot-checks on individual hunters. In the course of these inspections and spot-checks, a total of 24 suspected offenders were apprehended. A total of 30 suspected offences have been disclosed until Sunday 20th April, of which 24 offences were of minor nature as follows:

Nature of the offence

Number of cases
Hunting within prohibited distances 4
Possession of a shotgun with a magazine capable of holding more than 2 rounds of ammunition 4
Possession of overloaded shotgun 1
Failure to declare shooting of a game bird 1
Failure to be in possession of the special license and / or carnet de chasse whilst hunting 4
Failure to declare going out hunting on the carnet de chasse booklet 5
Leaving a firearm unattended 2
Possession of heavy gauge shot 2
Possession of pre-recorded bird calls 1
Total: 24

Six violations are considered to be more serious as these involved suspected targeting of protected birds, or hunting within a bird sanctuary, as follows:

Nature of the offence

Number of cases
Illegal trapping of protected birds 3
Illegal shooting of a protected bird (swallow) 1
Hunting in a bird sanctuary 1
Possession of a shotgun during unpermitted hours (case of suspected illegal hunting) 1
Total: 6

All cases are being prosecuted.