[WATCH] BirdLife anticipating ‘open season’ on turtle dove, as quail hunting season opens

The NGO has released a video explaining the differences between quail which can be legally hunted and turtle dove, the hunting of which is illegal

This year’s quail hunting season will effectively mean an open season on turtle dove, given the timing of the season, BirdLife said on Wednesday.

In a statement the NGO said that while the hunting season will be open for quail and not turtle dove, it will be open during a period of peak turtle dove migration.

“The season, which is supposedly open only for the hunting of quail, will run from the 10 to 30 April, meaning that the dates were further extended towards the end of the month when compared to last year,” BirdLife said.

“Effectively, this means that this year’s will be an open season for the hunting of turtle dove (Gamiema) since the dates clearly overlap onto the peak migration period of the red-listed turtle dove during the last two weeks of April.”  

It noted that as of today, hunting is permitted from two hours before sunrise until 12pm every day. BirdLife said the national season quota had been set at 5,000 quail, with both the daily quota and the individual season quota having been scrapped.

It said that a total of 7,647 hunters had applied for a hunting license.

BirdLife said it would be monitoring the season, “with the aim of reporting and documenting the killing of protected species, especially the turtle dove”.

To this end, the NGO has released a video to raise awareness on how to identify illegal hunting and to inform the public on “the very evident differences between the quail and turtle dove”.

The video is intended to help the public spot illegal hunting.

The NGO is also appealing to members of the public to contact the police on 119 and BirdLife on 21347645/6 during office hours and 79255697 in the evenings or at the weekend.

BirdLife also called on the public to take photos of any illegalities to be used as evidence.

Birds shot illegally hours before season opening

The NGO also pointed out that it had received an illegally shot Marsh Harrier, found by the public in Mgarr, and a Yellow-legged Gull, also discovered by a member of the public at Tas-Safra. The number of illegally shot birds for 2019 now stands at 22.