BirdLife Malta proposes moratorium on spring hunting of Turtle-dove

March 27, 2024 9:06 am

BirdLife Malta is proposing a moratorium on the spring hunting of the Vulnerable European Turtle-dove in view of scientific evidence pointing to the species’ continued decline.

The request, backed by a detailed report, will be tabled at an ORNIS Committee meeting being held next week to discuss the upcoming spring hunting season on Turtle-dove. This meeting will be held on Tuesday 2nd April after it was postponed twice from the 20th and the 27th of March.

Request, backed by detailed report, to be tabled at ORNIS Committee meeting being held next week to discuss upcoming spring hunting season

A shot Turtle-dove recovered during the spring hunting season (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

BirdLife Malta had already submitted this report to Committee members prior to the first planned meeting in March. The detailed report focuses on the Turtle-dove and documents the situation of its status and the reasons why the species should be protected during the crucial period of spring migration.

In line with the findings of this report, BirdLife Malta has tabled a motion requesting the Maltese Government to re-introduce a moratorium on the  spring hunting on Turtle-dove. This will be voted upon at the same meeting during which a discussion will also take place on proposals to open a spring hunting season and a trapping season on Turtle-doves that were tabled by hunting federation FKNK.

The proposal to trap and keep Turtle-doves for captive breeding is yet another of FKNK’s attempts at pushing government to ignore the EU experts’ plight at halting the taking of this species across all Europe. Malta had been stopped from continuing the trapping of Turtle-doves in the past by way of an Infringement Procedure.

FKNK’s proposal to continue the spring hunting of Turtle-doves also risks bringing the spring hunting season closer to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) case, given the European Commission has a separate Infringment Procedure with an additional Letter of Formal Notice issued against Malta in February 2023.

BirdLife Malta’s report on the conservation status of the European Turtle-dove, which is being shared with the media together with this press release, is also being made available to the general public from BirdLife Malta’s website, prior to next week’s ORNIS meeting.

European Turtle-dove (Gamiema) by Aron Tanti

It contains data from recognised bodies such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and the PanEuropean Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) that clearly shows the constant decline of the Turtle-dove. It also refers to the annual report that is issued by the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) and documents various flaws in it, which are used to justify a spring hunting derogation. In its conclusions, BirdLife Malta’s report lists nine reasons why a spring hunting season on the Vulnerable Turtle-dove should not be enacted, and requests a moratorium on hunting on this species.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.