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Posted on 15th April 2015
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Recently there was a referendum in Malta, as reported here by the BBC, about whether to outlaw spring bird hunting. Malta has an exemption from EU regulations, which allows them to hunt specified numbers of turtle dove and quail. In fact, many other species are shot "by accident" during this spring hunting season, which coincides with migration and breeding seasons for a number of protected and endangered species; impacting bird populations in other countries.
One of the main arguments for continuing to allow spring hunting was that it is a Maltese tradition (I am in Malta at the moment, and can assure you that the Maltese are very proud of their traditions), but the fall-out of this tradition is not only on Malta. Do the Maltese hunters have a right to drive bird species into extinction in other countries, or indeed any species? Is tradition a sound argument?
It was also a tradition of the K.K.K. to harass and murder black people, female genital mutilation is still a tradition in parts of Africa, and it was also a tradition that rich people from colonial nations would go to Africa to hunt big game, but I don't think most people would argue now that tradition justifies these acts.
It seems that whenever it comes to a choice about acting in an environmentally responsible manner, there are always excuses: tradition, cost, economic growth, or just downright inconvenience. It is time to stop accepting excuses, while there is still a natural world to protect.