Greens question hunters’ U-turn after call for turtle dove moratorium

Alternattiva Demokratika welcome change of heart but says it is a pity that hunters took so long to take note of unsustainable hunting of turtle doves

The status of the European turtle dove has been classifed as vulnerable after its populations plummeted by 80% in the past 30 years (Photo: David Tipling / Nature Picture Library)
The status of the European turtle dove has been classifed as vulnerable after its populations plummeted by 80% in the past 30 years (Photo: David Tipling / Nature Picture Library)

Alternattiva Demokratika has questioned the hunting lobby’s surprising proposal for the government to suspend spring hunting, arguing that while it is relieved at the hunters’ change of heart, it was a pity that it took so long for them to take note of the unsustainable practice.

With EU action against Malta imminent, hunters’ federation FKNK yesterday called for a turtle dove moratorium in light of the decline of turtle doves and the classification of the species as “vulnerable.”

The FKNK’s call for a moratorium was also endorsed by St Hubert’s Hunters who said the ban on the hunting of the European turtle dove should remain in force until the sustainability of its species has been scientifically proven.

The hunter’s U-turn comes just over a year after the pro-hunting lobby won by the slimmest of margins an abrogative referendum on the abolition of spring hunting.

Welcoming the hunters’ proposals, Alternattiva Demokratika spokesperson Simon Galea questioned why hunters had in the past opposed a ban on the hunting of turtle doves, only for them to now realise the reality of this unsuitable practice.

“Sustainability is a key factor in nature protection including in conservation of bird species. Shooting down birds on their way to breed is already unjustified on its own merits let alone when same species of birds killed is dwindling in numbers and turtle dove hunting is a case in point,” Galea, the party’s spokesperson on animal welfare, said.

A report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature last June revealed how the European Commission placed the European turtledove on the red list of endangered species after having experienced an 80% decrease in species in the past 30 years. 

“Quails and particularly, turtle doves are both experiencing decline in numbers as confirmed through scientific data including reports by the EU. It is a pity that the hunters opposed us and environmental NGOs on the issue for so many years and took so long to come to terms with this reality and that both PN and PL supported such an unsustainable practice," Galea said.

The hunters’ change of heart was also welcomed by BirdLife Malta, who yesterday said the Maltese government should have applied for such a moratorium a long time ago on the basis of the scientific facts available.

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