Inhabitants of the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo are currently in the run-up to a referendum. The subject? Spring hunting, yay or nay? We do love a referendum here on the Maltese Islands, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that any political decision comes with a whole lot of trash-talk. Let me premise this post by saying that I, for one, don’t see any logical reason to allow hunting during the season where birds are supposedly meant to be reproducing. I only studied biology at O-level, but I’m about 99.9% sure that you birds  need to be alive to reproduce. Even if I were in favour of hunting (which I’m not, at all) the logical thing to do is not hunt at this crucial time in order to allow the ‘stock’ of birds to be replenished, but who has time for common sense these days? The fact that we even need a referendum about something means there’s a divided opinion on the matter. Fine, you have your opinion, I have mine. I’ll explain, in a civilised and diplomatic way, why I think I’m right and you’ll do the same in turn – right? Wrong. It’s difficult to put Maltese politics into an easy-to-understand nutshell, however I do think that the following extract from a 2006 article by The Times of Malta sums up the ‘Pro-Spring-hunting’ side of things rather well:

“BirdLife and co. will feel the full weight of the wrath of FKNK and Maltese hunters and trappers”. […] In an aggressive statement, Mr [Lino] Farrugia said anyone who wanted to abolish traditions like hunting and trapping would first have to step “over a lot of dead bodies”. 

It has to be said that ‘dead bodies’ may have been a tad too dramatic on his part. How can I be certain that this aggressive tone persists even in 2015? Well, for the most part you’ll have to trust a girl actually living on the island in question. This more recent article from the official SHOUT (Spring Hunting Out) page might persuade you – or it might not. The official FKNK Facebook page and website do seem quite tame and generally respectable, but let’s be practical. There’s a vast difference between the PR-endorsed side of the Pro-hunting debate and the ugly day-to-day reality – the ‘dark underbelly’, if you will.

Sign (in atrociously bad Maltese) reads: ‘Hunters – treated worse than criminals). Poor lambs. Being confronted by this group of gentlemen wouldn’t be threatening at all, would it?

The bottom line is this – they’re the Federation for Hunting, Trapping and (though they seem to forget) Conservation. If they want the rights afforded by the first two activities, then they need to be able to perform when it comes to the third, because quite frankly conservation isn’t just about rebuilding stone huts and walls. 

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