As Humanists we are deeply concerned about the environment in which we live. We are not a species in isolation, and our happiness and wellbeing is inextricably linked with other species in an intricate web of interrelations and an ecosystem that encompasses the planet.
We must always be aware of the ways in which we have a negative impact on our environment, and if necessary be prepared to make sacrifices to mitigate the harm. From buying energy-saving devices to reduce pollution from fossil fuels, to recycling the waste we generate, every little bit helps.
On the 11th of April, the people of Malta are being called upon to make one such decision - to determine whether hunting of birds can continue during spring.
The spring migration season marks the penultimate stage in a bird’s annual cycle. It is heading from Africa back to Europe to nest. Not all birds survive winter of course - some will fall victim to predators, or die of other causes. The ones that survive would have flown thousands of kilometers, and are on the final leg of their journey before they reach their breeding grounds in Europe. Killing a parent bird before it can produce the next generation goes against all principles of sustainable activities.
Apart from the direct impact of hunting on the authorised species it is an unfortunate fact that a legal hunting season provides cover for those hunters who shoot indiscriminately at all species of birds, as well as the fact that the Maltese public is kept out of the countryside by hunting activities.
Hunting is not a right but a pastime, and like any pastime it can be subject to restrictions. Just as Malta has banned spear fishing while scuba diving, it can stop hunting during spring, and this is not a breach of anybody’s rights. On the contrary it is a rational way to limit our impact and try to stem the steady and alarming decline of bird populations in the wild. We urge everyone, including hunters, to vote with an eye to the future of bird populations and vote "No" to spring hunting on the 11th April.