Hunting has been a hugely controversial subject in Malta for decades.
Back in the 1970s, when this film was made in the Mizieb area between Manikata and Mellieha, it was Dom Mintoff’s government which issued the first rules regulating hunting.
The decision angered the pro-hunt lobby, which organised a series of protests.
The debate about hunting in Malta raged for more than 30 years until 45,000 people signed a petition in 2013 calling for a total ban on spring hunting.
The petition triggered a national referendum on the subject which took place on 11 April 2015.
Voters voted narrowly in favour of retaining the spring hunt by a wafer-thin majority, with 50.4% voting for the existing law to remain in place. Voter turnout was 74.8%.
Today, Malta remains the only EU country that allows recreational spring hunting.
The European Union’s Birds Directive, which regulates the hunting of birds across the EU, makes two exceptions for Malta, allowing people to hunt turtle doves and quail in the spring, under strict regulations.
But conservationists claim the hunting season is abused by some hunters through the illegal shooting of other, protected species.