A small flock of migratory finches, who every summer fly from Africa to Penarth, have finally started to back arrive in back gardens in the Lower Penarth – but there are fewer of them this time.
Bird trappers in Malta – the bird’s first European landfall – are allowed, under European Union rules, to use guns to shoot them or nets to try to trap them in their thousands as they stop-over on the Mediterranean island en route for the UK .
Malta has more than 10,000 “recreational hunters” who like to kill or trap pretty much anything that flies over island thanks to a permitted “derogation ” from the “E U Birds Directive” made by the undemocratic European Union Commission. [ The unelected E U Commission makes the laws for the entire European Union – including the UK, unless of course Britain votes “Leave “ today. ]
The surviving birds are arriving back in Penarth – after running the gauntlet of Malta and dodging the E U hunters’ nets and guns on their journey North. Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) is counting the finches arriving back in his garden – and says there are fewer of them than usual – just 4 rather than the 12 who nested in his garden last summer .
For the past 40 years the European Union has mostly turned a blind-eye to the cruel practice of wild bird hunting in Malta which has decimated the numbers of some species .
This year, under intense pressure from environmentalists and the powerful pro-wildlife lobby, the European Commission – which can’t be voted out of office – has finally begun to concede a little to public opinion and has referred Malta to the European Court of Justice in the first serious bid it’s ever made to get Maltese hunters to cut back on the annual slaughter .
However wildlife bodies say the E U Commission should not be allowing any kind of wild bird hunting or trapping anywhere in the union’s 28 countries and that Malta should be given no latitude.
Malta’s Hunting Federation – on the other hand – claims that finch trapping and shooting is “an important pastime” on the island . In April this year Malta went to the polls in a referendum which voted to continue the trapping the birds . The E U says limited hunting is OK provided the numbers of birds killed are “small” and hunting is conducted under supervision, but – under pressure – now claims Malta is killing too many.
Meanwhile the surviving finches now arriving in the back gardens in Penarth can at least breathe a sigh of relief that no-one’s going to do them any harm here.