[WATCH] Illegal bird trapper caught in the act

A repeat offender is caught illegally trapping birds in his hide in Qrendi • Police seized a total of 19 live birds, including Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Siskins and Greenfinches

A Ring Ouzel, a red-listed species, was let out of its illegal cage by Police and the man responsible awaits questioning
A Ring Ouzel, a red-listed species, was let out of its illegal cage by Police and the man responsible awaits questioning

Members of German anti-poaching group CABS deployed near Qrendi spotted a man at his trapping site during the act of illegally trapping protected finch species. He was using a 20-metre clap net and live decoys. Police were called on site who arrested the trapper and seized his equipment, including an illegal bird calling machine, and 19 live birds. Some of these were protected Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Siskins and Greenfinches. All this took place during the first day of the trapping season.

According to CABS, the arrested man was a recidivist who had been caught trapping finches this spring in the same spot in Qrendi. "Despite the poacher awaiting trial for illegal trapping, the government issued a license for this suspect and allowed the trapping site he used in spring to be registered," CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said. "Rewarding known wildlife criminals with licenses for bird trapping is exactly the opposite of true, effective regulation and enforcement."

In a press release issued earlier today, CABS praised the police for their quick response but showed deep concerns regarding the potential scale of trapping offences occuring in the Maltese countryside. "[Our] teams will continue to have a close eye on the situation until the end of the migration season. All cases with be reported to the Maltese authorities as well as to the European Commission."

A separate CABS team deployed in the Mtahleb area on the same day alerted police when two protected Ring Ouzels (Malvizz tas-Sidra) were observed in an aviary close to a trapping site. The police release the caged birds when they were called on site and landowner was cautioned and awaits further questioning.

"Ring Ouzels are scarce visitors to the Maltese islands," CABS said, "and are a red-listed species of conservation concern across much of its European range."

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