Hunter fined €1,000 for shooting protected bird
Following incidents of shooting of protected birds that occurred over the past two days, the police, assisted by officers from the Specialist Enforcement Branch of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit apprehended two suspects.
One suspect was charged under arrest this afternoon and accused in Court with shooting a protected species, hunting during a closed season, handling firearm within prohibited distances, and inciting others to commit a crime. The Court found the suspect guilty of these charges and meted out a 3 months jail sentence suspended for a year, a fine of €1,000, confiscation of his shotgun and suspension of license for 2 years.
The second suspect is being investigated and is expected to be charged soon. Law enforcement officials are also following other leads in their investigation of the shooting of protected storks on March 23.
The Government appealed to the public who may have witnessed any incidents of illegal shooting to come forward with any information that may help the authorities in their investigations. Information may be reported to the police on telephone 112 or 119 as well as to Wild Birds Regulation Unit via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or on mob: 79496320. Any reports received will be treated in strictest confidence.
In the wake of these recent incidents, Government issued a stark warning to anyone contemplating on breaking the law. Abuses will not be tolerated and anyone caught violating the regulations will bear full brunt of the law.
New legal amendments, announced yesterday, are expected to be brought into force over the coming days. Under these amendments, anyone found guilty of hunting or attempting to hunt, or taking or attempting to take any protected birds listed in Schedules I and IX of the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L. 504.71), will, upon first conviction, receive penalty comprising of €5,000 fine, and / or imprisonment for one year, as well as permanent revocation of license and confiscation of corpus delicti. In case of second or subsequent offence, the applicable penalty will go up to €10,000, confiscation, and / or imprisonment for two years. These measures represent a ten-fold increase in the presently applicable minimum fine for first time and subsequent offences, whilst permanent revocation of license, and imprisonment, which, at present, only apply to repeat offenders, will also apply in the case of a first time offence in such cases.
Government also appealed to all hunters to ensure strict observance of applicable hunting regulations, including reporting obligations, during forthcoming spring hunting season for turtle dove and quail which will open on April 12.
“Compliance will be strictly enforced. Any breaches of regulations, and in particular – non-compliance with time and space restrictions, any illegal targeting of protected species, or non-compliance with SMS reporting obligations and special license conditions will lead to repercussions not only on the individuals concerned, but on the entire hunting community, and will put the rights of legal hunters to enjoy their season in jeopardy. Should significant breaches occur, appropriate measures will be considered,” the government said.
Government also welcomed public condemnations of the incidents issued by hunting organisations, which clearly show that those who break the law cannot expect to find refuge among the law-abiding community, and praised both hunting organisations and conservation NGOs for closely cooperating with the authorities in a drive to stamp out and eradicate abuse.