Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon.
Roger Salmon.
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Many of you will be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the annual shooting of migratory birds as they pass through Malta.

This has been brought into sharp focus by the ‘Springwatch’ presenter, Chris Packham, when he visited Malta at the height of the shooting season with a view to filming it and drawing it to the attention of an international audience.

The hunters appear to disregard national and European legislation and shoot birds of any species, protected or otherwise.

This indiscriminate slaughter has been taking place for decades as Malta is one of the prime migratory routes from Africa to Europe.

When Malta joined the EU it was hoped that such hunting would be a thing of the past since spring hunting and trapping is expressly forbidden by the EU Birds Directive.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the Maltese government had failed to comply and that the shooting should be stopped forthwith.

With inadequate monitoring and enforcement by the local police shooting of any birds continues.

Mr Packham and others claim that they have seen evidence of a whole host of species being killed, including golden orioles, bee-eaters,swallows, honey buzzards, kestrels and ospreys.

Many residents of Malta have had enough of the carnage and the damage it does to the country’s reputation.

Tens of thousands of them have petitioned the government calling for a referendum on the issue and Birdlife Malta is campaigning vigorously to end the practice once and for all.

Don’t forget that some of those birds killed will be “our” birds making their way to these shores to breed.

One swallow does not a summer make, but it would be a miserable summer if few of the swallows heading for Britain actually arrived here.

To see how you can assist with the campaign to call time on this annual shooting party, visit chrispackham.co.uk