1982: In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted the Knights of St John the use of the islands of Malta and Gozo in return for a nominal annual rent of a single live Maltese falcon, a subspecies of peregrine falcon renowned for its hunting skills.
Four centuries later, in The Maltese Falcon, the novelist Dashiell Hammett turned this yearly tribute into a jewel-encrusted statuette, which was pursued by a slippery mix of crooks and private eyes.
The real world was every bit as unsavoury as the fictional world. In 1982, or very soon after, hunters shot the last pair of breeding Maltese falcons on the cliffs of Gozo.
Source: Emma Hartley, Did David Hasselhoff End the Cold War?: 50 Facts You Need to Know: Europe (2007), pp. 105–6