Kieran Dodds

Bugibba, MALTA

Neil Glenn, professional birdwatcher, from Great Britain: 'If there had been a lot of birds to shot it would have been a slaughter. -- Hunters say they used to find thousands of birds so they know they are in trouble but if you shoot them it compounds the problems. -- Big birds of prey are born with a route map and if you shoot that population they won't come back here. -- Across Europe everything is going south to north in spring and vice versa in autumn. Birds prefer routes called flyways (avian motorways). Malta is a crucial island stopping off point going to northern Europe. -- You might out-regulate the hunters but really its the next generation that's the hope. -- The main thing I got from the trip - there is hope. I thought I would find despair and no light at the end of the tunnel but there is light. -- Members of the public were coming up to us saying they love what we were doing.'Under EU leglislation, hunting or trapping birds in spring is illegal but the government of Malta, which joined the EU in 2004, allows hunting of turtle dove and quail at this time of year. Some 170 species of bird pass over Malta during the spring and autumn migration periods. Hunters regularly shoot other species including birds of prey which are stuffed for private collection. Spring Watch Malta is a conservation camp run by BirdLife Malta, a non-profit which lobbies against bird hunting in the country. In 2012, fifty volunteers from across Europe converged on a tourist hotel in Bugibba in northern Malta and fanned out to track migrating birds and monitor any illegal spring hunting

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Kieran Dodds
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