Times of Malta: Trapped in their home surrounded by hunters

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If you don’t yet understand the attitudes of the peaceful, law-abiding greens that dominate Malta’s brutish poaching community, check out the comments below the article where it first appeared on the Times of Malta website. Whether or not “San Martin Estate resident, Caroline Muscat” is a partner of a leading BirdLife Malta staffer (and so what if she is, the actions of the hunters would be intimidating and be trespass anywhere else in the world regardless) the comments that the hunters basically own the countryside and can go and do what they want are incredibly revealing. Just imagine that right now, outside your own house there are poachers roaming around shooting at whatever moves, are coming into your garden to pick up the corpses of the dead migrants they’d just shot, or that they’d start shooting at 05:00 – and that they’d think they had some sort of ‘traditional’ right to do it. Add to that there would be apparently absolutely nothing you could do about it. How frustrated and angry would you feel?

 

  • Trapped in their home surrounded by hunters

    Times of Malta, 19 April 2012:

    “As the hunting season shot off to a start, residents living on the outskirts of Mġarr say they are often trapped in their own homes, surrounded by shot-gun pellets and threatening hunters, some of who trespass on private property.

    One San Martin Estate resident, Caroline Muscat, was yesterday going about her daily chores when she saw a hunter walking around her property looking for a bird he had just shot.

    When she asked him to get out, he insisted he wanted to retrieve “his” bird. He did, only to return with two others who sat down opposite Ms Muscat’s house, keeping her under their watch-ful gaze, raising their fists and hurling insults.

    “I could not get out and was being harassed in my own home. Anybody in my position would feel threatened,” Ms Muscat said.

    A friend of hers, who learnt about the incident from Facebook, immediately called an Administrative Law Enforcement officer, whose first reaction was to ask whether the shot bird was protected.

    When the caller could not answer, he was asked why he was bothering the police and advised “don’t be difficult, let them find the bird”.

    When contacted, the police insisted the ALE officer took action and apart from “proceeding personally to the indicated address”, he also informed the Mosta police to call at the place since they were closer.

    Ms Muscat confirmed the police did make it to the area – an hour later – by which time the hunters had disappeared.

    “I knew the police were approaching because I suddenly saw the hunters disappear,” Ms Muscat said, adding the police did not look for the shot bird on the premises to identify whether it was protected.

    When contacted, a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said the police were investigating the case.

    This was not the first incident of the sort. Last year, San Martin residents sent a letter to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Police Commissioner John Rizzo, twice expressing concern that hunters shoot on the boundaries of their residential area.

    Ms Muscat said they never received an acknowledgment. When contacted, a spokesman said that after receiving the letter on April 14 of last year, the Office of the Prime Minister had asked the police to investigate.

    Following these investigations, the police informed OPM that “no illegal activity as described was noted” and “the story told and reported is abnormally inflated”.

    But residents of San Martin Estate live in this “threatening atmosphere” every hunting season, they say. Some 12 families wake up to the noise of shotguns as early as 5 a.m.

    “We are surrounded by hunters with their shotguns pointed in the direction of our property… birds and pellets alike constantly fall on our property… It’s unbearable, it’s like living in a war zone,” Ms Muscat added.

    “It’s not fair that because they’re bullies, demanding that laws are bent to their benefit, they get listened to, and when we ask for basic public health and safety regulations, we’re ignored,” Ms Muscat insisted.

    Yesterday’s incident was not the first for Ms Muscat. Once, while sipping some coffee on her patio, a hunter started shooting in her direction after a bird flew over her head. The hunter had been hiding under a tree on her own property.

    “What can I do? Put up barbed wire around my place, to gain some peace?”

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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I birded the world for twenty years before quitting my airline job and am now freelance. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

4 Comments

  1. Mark Mifsud Bonnici says:

    Charlie,
    You are totally wrong on this and reading what the police have said in the article should have enlightened you as to what this article is all about.
    “Following these investigations, the police informed OPM that “no illegal activity as described was noted” and “the story told and reported is abnormally inflated”.

    Just to let you know Birdlife Malta have been approaching several country home owners to ask whether hunting in their area is a bother. Out of several owners interviewed most were not even bothered to answer since their acceptance of country life includes accepting hunting in the area even at 5 in the morning. All were quite aware of hunting in the area before they bought their property as was Caroline Muscat.

    The Maltese countryside is practically all privately owned or leased from Government. Maltese law stipulates a safe distance of 200m from any town or village but allows hunting in inhabited areas with less than 100 residents to within the boundaries of private property. Caroline Muscat’s residence is one of several similar residences.

    This particular case did not involve a poacher, but a legally registered hunters that owns land in the vicinity of Caroline Muscat’s land. it is quite customary to allow hunters to retrieve birds from private property considering the small holdings all in close proximity of each other.

    Indeed she has every right to her own private property, she also has every right to report trespassers. If indeed she doubts police efficiency and the problem is so rife, what prevents her from documenting the various episodes on video, if indeed they exist, and presenting them as proof?

    Rightfully as stated by the police the whole affair was blown out of proportion and no illegal activity as described was noted” and “the story told and reported is abnormally inflated”.

    Caroline Muscat was doing her part for Birdlife Malta and she even managed to fool you.

    Reply
  2. Simon says:

    Good afternoon Mr Bonnici

    Intimidating activity for certain, illegal activities debatable?

    This got me wondering particularly as a tax paying EU citizen and the fact that Malta is in receipt of the largest amount of money from the CAP as direct payments to land owners / managers of all EU member states. As your “legally registered hunters” Therefore I just wondered as many of these areas must be in breach of the rules of cross compliance (to receive the payment you must comply) due to the unsustainable and illegal activities of hunters on their land, therefore what measures are being taken to reclaim some of my taxes as I’d like my taxes to be wisely spent and not supporting blasting migrants for some pervese reason which even you will struggle to justify.

    I look forward to your response.

    Reply
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