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Malta's Beautiful Birds
12 years ago
Malta International Animal Rescue first became active in Malta in 1990. Since that time there have been significant improvements in the welfare of wild and domestic animals on the island. When IAR started working in Malta, birds were being shot in the public gardens and nature reserves, unsterilised dogs and cats were running wild, and the dolphinarium had just imported dolphins from the old Yugoslavia in a ’humanitarian’ effort to save them from the ravages of war. However, since then our determined efforts to help the animals of Malta have finally begun to pay off. EU membership As one of the ten candidate countries for accession to the European Union in 2004, Malta had to work hard to bring its position on environmental and animal welfare issues into line with other countries. Thanks to the EU, for the first time in its history Malta now has animal welfare legislation in place. One of the issues hotly debated both in Malta and in Brussels was the hunting of birds. Regrettably, during negotiations the government obtained special concessions for the hunters, one of which allows the spring shooting of quail and turtle doves and the trapping of songbirds. Enforcement And yet the government has demonstrated its determination to stamp out illegal hunting. In an effort to control the illegal shooting of migratory birds that fly over the island, the Administrative Law Enforcement department (ALE) was set up - a team of more than 30 officers dedicated to fighting wildlife crime. On 28 May 2002 the Malta Independent newspaper carried a report on six people fined for illegal hunting. The cases were brought to court by Inspector Miruzzi of the ALE. This wouldn’t have happened in 1990. IAR has donated speedboats and engines to the ALE to assist them in catching illegal hunters at sea and the government has also purchased a number of other boats. Enforcement at sea is now vastly improved and IAR continues to support local efforts to clamp down on illegal shooting and trapping activities. IAR Malta Max Farrugia, Chairman of IAR Malta, runs a bird rehabilitation hospital from his house in Valleta. Species that he has nursed back to health after shooting injuries have included honey buzzards, hobbies, kestrels and short eared owls. When they have recovered, rescued birds are released back into the wild.
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