Romanian police say that three Maltese men are facing criminal charges for poaching after being caught red-handed hooting protected birds with no hunting license in southern Romania.
The three men, aged 24, 49 and 62, were questioned by officers from Romanian Bureau of Explosive Weapons and Dangerous Substances last week.
Police caught them during a routine patrol near the village of Orlesti in southern Romania, not far from the River Olt.
Officers found 19 birds from five different species that had been shot in their possession. Romania bans the hunting of four of those species. Among the birds they had shot was the gadwall, a dabbling duck, and the common loon, another water bird.
An investigation revealed the men had no hunting permit, and are now facing criminal charges for poaching, a statement from Valcea County Police said.
The officers seized the men’s car, trailer and boat, and firearms, all locally hired.
Romanian police estimated damages were about 10,000 lei. The statement did not say whether the men were detained or are prevented from leaving Romania during the investigation.
Foreigners travel to Romania to hunt the Eurasian skylark, quail and fieldfare.
A Romanian court in October 2019 placed a hunting ban on skylarks and three other species of birds for the 2019-2020 season, following overhunting and poaching. The skylark is considered a delicacy in Italy.
Romania has 21.9 million hectares of hunting ground which are managed by almost 600 hunting associations.