Scientists warn of impending turtle dove British extinction

Turtle dove numbers in Britain have plummeted by 93% since 1970 and the migratory bird may be rendered entirely extinct from Britain by 2021

Turtle dove populations in Britain are declining so rapidly that they may be entirely gone from the country in a eight years’ time, scientists from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have warned.

A paper in the British journal Bird Study, by two RSPB research scientists Jenny Dunn and Antony Morris said that: “at the current rate of decline, turtle doves may be lost as a UK breeding bird by 2021.”  

Turtle dove numbers in Britain have dropped by a whopping 93% since 1970, the fastest decline of a bird towards extinction in British history.

Moreover, scientists warned that turtle doves are simply the worst affected of the migratory birds that spend the winter in Africa and fly to Britain in the springtime to breed. Eight out of Britain’s twelve most threatened bird species are African migratory birds.

The European Commission estimates that around 2-4 million turtle doves are shot down annually in Malta, Cyprus, France, Italy, Spain and Greece. This results in fewer birds migrating to Britain to breed and prevents young birds even returning to Africa. 

Thanks to an EU derogation, Maltese hunters are allowed to shoot 11,000 turtle doves and 5,000 quails throughout a 21-day spring hunting season. Each hunter is allowed a seasonal bag limit of four turtle doves and quail. A referendum will be held on 11 April where the public will get to decide whether to maintain or remove the law that allows for this derogation.