Spring hunting season dates raise BirdLife's ire

The Ornis Committee has recommended a spring hunting season for quail between 5 and 25 April • FKNK welcomes decision to shift the season further into April while BirdLife calls it a regressive move

Only quail can be hunted this spring season, following a 2016 moratorium on the hunting of turtle doves
Only quail can be hunted this spring season, following a 2016 moratorium on the hunting of turtle doves

The hunting advisory board voted on Tuesday to recommend a spring hunting season between 5 April and 25 April, in a move that has angered bird conservation group BirdLife.

Last year's season opened on 25 March and closed on 14 April. Hunters had called for the season to be shifted later into April, to coincide more with the migration of quail. A moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove will again be observed this year.

The Ornis Committee recommended a seasonal bag limit of 5,000 quail, with a daily individual bag limit of five birds and an individual seasonal bag limit of 10.

Environment Minister Jose Herrera will have to now consider the recommendation and issue a legal notice.

FKNK president Joe Perici Calascione told MaltaToday that the proposed season was not what hunters actually wanted but they will abide by it.

"We call on all hunters to observe the law, and we will be helping in enforcement," Perici Calascione said, adding that the overlap with the migration of turtle dove should not serve as an excuse to shift the season backward. "The illegality of the few should not hinder the enjoyment of many others."

But Birdlife CEO Mark Sultana said shifting the spring hunting season forward "would be a regressive move which endangers the protected turtle dove".

Sultana said the decision was designed to make it possible for hunters to shoot turtle doves.

A moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring was introduced in 2016 after the bird's conservation status was put under the spotlight.

The Ornis Committee includes two FKNK representatives, two representatives of Birdlife Malta, three government-appointed experts and one expert each in the areas of conservation of birds and hunting/trapping.

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