Trapping in Malta is mainly carried out using clap nets. This method uses – two large nets which are placed parallel to each other on the ground and swing shut towards each other when activated. In preparation for the use of clap nets, trappers remove all vegetation in the trapping area and often dump soil or gravel to create a level surface where the nets can be spread. A number of live decoy birds are also placed around the trapping site - either kept in tiny cages or tied directly to the ground by a harness. Species trapped using this method include Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Hawfinch, Chaffinch, Serin, Linnet, Siskin, Turtle Dove, Golden Plover and Song Thrush. This type of trapping site is the one most frequently encountered in the Maltese countryside.
|Aerial photo showing the density of trapping sites in a Natura 2000 site. Source: BirdLife Malta. |
Another type of net used is a vertical net spread over a tall crop, such as corn, with three sides dangling to the ground and the fourth tied up like a curtain.
| Quail trapping sites use large numbers of caged decoys. Source: BirdLife Malta.|
This net is used to catch Common Quail, which seek cover in the crops after arriving in Malta at night – they are again attracted to the area by a large number of live decoys or electronic lures. In the morning the net is closed completely and a dog is pushed under the net to flush the trapped quails into a corner where they can be removed by the trapper.
Cage traps are often used to trap Turtle and Collared Doves (a protected species), although they are also effective in targeting a wide range of other species.
|Cage traps are very effective at catching wild birds. Source: BirdLife Malta.|
Cage traps consist of a large central cage in which live decoy birds, food and water are kept, and separate cages into which wild birds can enter. Wild birds are attracted by the live decoys and enter the cage through small holes to join the decoys. These cages work like fish pots – once the bird goes in it can’t get out.
Decoy birds are normally used by trappers to lure wild birds into a trap; however tape lures are also being illegally used. A tape lure repeating the calls of wild birds is a very effective method of attracting birds to a trapping site as it can be left to run repeatedly for all night.
All the above described methods are illegal under the Birds Directive.