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MT 21 September 2014

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THE hunting ban announced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yes- terday has completely overruled the Ornis Committee, the body charged with recommending the opening dates for hunting, which had pro- posed the opening of the autumn hunting season and the lifting of the September 3pm curfew. It vindicated accusations that the police's Administrative Law En- forcement unit could not prevent hunters from breaking the law due to several transfers made before the start of the hunting season. Muscat was informed by the pro- hunting junior minister Roderick Galdes, that he could no longer guarantee that hunters' illegalities would be stopped. That came after the slaughter of White Storks, an elegant large bird associated with parental devotion and good luck, the killing of which is environmental sacrilege in Euro- pean society. Muscat was worried that the week before the Brussels hearing of commissioner-designate Karmenu Vella, who has yet to be grilled by MEPs on his credentials for the post of Environment Commission- er, the massacre of protected birds in Malta would embarrass the Mal- tese nominee and rekindle atten- tion about Malta's appalling record of illegal hunting of protected spe- cies. Vella has been surprisingly en- trusted with the environment portfolio, apart from maritime and fisheries, by Commission president Jean Claude Juncker. Most of the questions which Kar- menu Vella, former tourism min- ister, is bound to have to answer will focus on the Birds Directive. The surpris- ing decision to ban hunting in Malta until 10 Octo- ber should go some way to placate some of Malta's harshest crit- ics. Muscat has been told that most of the hunters creating problems are 'criminals' interested in shoot- ing birds for profitable taxidermy. A stuffed White Stork could fetch o v e r €7,000 on the black market, a police source told MaltaToday. However the extent of il- legal hunting appears to go beyond the racket of sell- ing birds, whose trade involves dozens of illegal t a x i d e r m i s t s . Many hunters simply enjoy shooting and keeping stuffed birds as trophies. The suspen- sion of the hunt- ing season, if respected, will save the lives of countless pro- tected birds of prey, including the rare and en- dangered Peregrine Falcon and the White and Black Storks that f ly south to Africa. However it raises the question whether the Ornis committee head- ed by anthropologist Mark Anthony Sammut, has been rendered redun- dant. With prime ministerial inter- vention, the role of the committee, already heavily criticised for being pro-hunting, is in question. SUNDAY • 21 SEPTEMBER 2014 • ISSUE 776 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY maltatoday Newspaper post YOUR FIRST READ AND FIRST CLICK OF THE DAY WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT CONTINUES PAGE 4 HISTORIAN HENRY FRENDO & PRESIDENT EMERITUS Arrival/Departure Hall Malta International Airport MALTATODAY SURVEY PGS 14-15 €1.20 maltatoday YOUR FIRST READ AND FIRST CLICK OF THE DAY WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT MALTATODAY SURVEY PGS 14-15 50 Hunting ban precedes Vella grilling on hunting credentials LANGUAGE, FOOD AND... THE EURO? Find out what it means to us to be Maltese, Mediterranean and European HISTORIAN HENRY FRENDO 50 HENRY FRENDO 50 HENRY FRENDO 50 HENRY FRENDO 50 HENRY FRENDO Celebrating Independence UGO MIFSUD BONNICI INTERVIEWED PAGES 9-13 The killing of a White Stork has once again outraged the public and forced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's hand in calling for drastic action against the lobby his party panders to: but his reaction is also informed by the forthcoming grilling of Karmenu Vella (top) as EU environment commissioner

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