A Catholic animal welfare group has called for an immediate end to the killing of migratory birds across the Mediterranean.
Catholic Concern for Animals’ (CCA) call comes after global conservation body BirdLife International claimed that some 25 million birds are reportedly killed illegally there each year.
BirdLife revealed that common methods include illegal shooting, capture in nets and recordings of bird sounds to lure birds including songbirds.
Many of the techniques, such as lime sticks that glue the birds to branches, ‘cause considerable suffering before resulting in the bird’s death’, it added.
BirdLife said in its 2015 annual report the highest estimates of birds illegally killed or taken in the region were for Italy (three to eight million), while the density of illegal killing/taking was highest in Malta (18-667 birds per year per square km) and Cyprus (146-351 birds per square km).
On Malta, bird trapping has been described as a ‘national hobby’ by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS).
Bird trappers profit from capturing and selling wild caught birds, with live birds often smuggled into Malta for use as decoy birds for trapping.
“Catholic Concern for Animals has spoken out for many years against the appalling killing of migratory birds over the Mediterranean Sea and especially on the island of Malta, which is a very Catholic country and indeed Catholicism is the state religion on the island,” Chris Fegan, the CCA’s chief executive, told
“I am pleased that the Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta has spoken out loudly against the bird shooting seasons there,” added Mr Fegan, who visited the island at the time of the Maltese spring hunting referendum – which occurred on 11th April 2015 – in order to support the opposition against the barbaric activities.
“Unfortunately the referendum result allowed the continued killing of some species of birds by the smallest of margins,” he explained – 50.4 per cent voted for the law to remain in place.
“Whilst I was in Malta I saw for myself the appalling killing of migratory birds in the company of well known ornithologist Bill Oddie.
“As naturalist Chris Packham has recently said on his own visit to Malta, there are many species of birds that are illegally killed by the hunters as well as the ‘target’ species of quail.”
Mr Fegan explained that CCA has been working with the Catholic Church in Malta on the issues of animal welfare since his visit in 2015.
“Indeed I met with senior Catholic clergy on a second visit to Malta only last Autumn to discuss animal welfare on the island and I are delighted that the archbishop continues to oppose wanton cruelty against God’s creation and CCA continues to call for an end to animal cruelty on the islands of Malta and other Mediterranean islands including Cyprus,” he said.
“Catholic Concern for Animals is calling for the immediate cessation of all killing of migratory birds not only in Malta but in the whole of the area of the Mediterranean sea.”
Picture: An Albanian hunter wades through Lake Shkoder carrying a raptor he shot while hunting for migratory ducks. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder on assignment for National Geographic Magazine).