The European Union invests millions of euros a year on the protection of wild birds--amid growing concerns about the decline in numbers of migratory birds. Nonetheless, in countries such as Malta, the hunt on endangered species of migratory birds continues. Nearly a million birds fall prey to poachers every year.
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Since Malta joined the European Union in 2004, it has been gradually implementing EU regulations, among them directives regarding the protection of wild birds. Nonetheless, migratory birds continue to be hunted on Malta during the traditional spring and autumn hunting season.
The birds are either shot or trapped alive and sold on the open market in Valletta. But the police unit charged with cracking down on the estimated 17,000 poachers on the island is small and poorly equipped.