FKNK case against BirdLife drags on
Wednesday 18 January 2015
BirdLife Malta activists set for fourth hearing in case brought against them by FKNK for saving illegally shot birds.
BirdLife Malta activists today gave their evidence in court to answer charges brought against them by the FKNK (Federation of Hunters, Trappers and Conservationists) in connection with their work saving illegally shot birds.
Nicholas Barbara and Fiona Burrows are charged with posession of protected species of birds, following a complaint made to the police by the FKNK hunting federation. The charges relate to a photograph released by BirdLife Malta in October 2012, showing staff and volunteers with birds which had been illegally shot, found by members of the public and brought to BirdLife in order for them to be seen by a vet.
Speaking after the court hearing today, Nicholas Barbara said “These birds were all illegally shot during an open autumn hunting season but instead of condeming illegal hunting, FKNK have accused us of criminal acts for trying to save the birds. This is a waste of our time and taxpayers money.”
The birds were brought to a vet who found that all seven had gunshot injuries; one was blinded in the eye and five had broken wings. Five had injuries so bad that they had no chance of recovery and were euthanised by the vet. One, a young marsh harrier, was able to be released on Comino but it had lead shot in its shoulder.
The court heard how every incident of injured birds brought to, or collected by BirdLife Malta is strictly documented, with information sent to the police and the government. Mr Barbara also told the court that it was not unknown for the police to phone BirdLife Malta and ask the organisation to collect birds.
In a previous sitting, charges were dropped against another BirdLife Malta staff member, Caroline Rance, when the court heard that she was not in the photograph in question.
Sentencing will be delivered on 6 May 2015. The court had suggested the case should finish next week but the FKNK’s lawyer could not seem to find an available date until after the 11 April.
On 3 October 2012, a female Common Kestrel was recovered from Ta’ Qali. BirdLife brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it found to have a shotgun injury, ripped skin on its body, a fractured right wing and an infected wound on the right wing. It was euthanized.
- On 4 October 2012, a female Common Kestrel was recovered near Bingemma Fort. BirdLife Malta brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it was found to have a gunshot wound and fracture to the left wing at the joint. It was euthanised.
- On 4 October 2012, a Night Heron was recovered from Bormla. It died while waiting to be seen by the vet. Its body was examined by the vet and found to have a gunshot wound to the left wing.
- On 4 October 2012, a male Lesser Kestrel was recovered from Għaxaq. BirdLife Malta brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it was found to have been shot as a result of which it was blind in the right eye and had soft tissue injury to the left wing. It was euthanised.
- On 5 October 2012, a Hoopoe was recovered from Baħrija. BirdLife Malta brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it was found to have been shot, with a fracture to the right wing and a fracture to the right leg. It was euthanised.
- On 5 October 2012, a female Marsh Harrier was recovered from Għajn Tuffieħa. BirdLife Malta brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it was found to have been shot. An xray was taken which showed a gunshot pellet lodged in the right shoulder. The vet recommended that the bird be released, and on 6 Ocotber 2012 BirdLife Malta released the bird on Comino.
- On 5 October 2012, a juvenile Honey Buzzard was recovered from Armier. BirdLife Malta brought the bird to be examined by a vet and it was found to have a gunshot wound and multiple fractures to the right wing.