Lifting the ban on hunting for turtle dove will go against EU policy, BirdLife warns Prime Minister

BirdLife writes to Prime Minister, insisting the turtle dove should be protected all year round

Turtle Dove (Photo: David Tipling / Nature Picture Library)
Turtle Dove (Photo: David Tipling / Nature Picture Library)

BirdLife Malta has written to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat objecting to any changes to the spring hunting season in terms of dates, and also huntable species.

This is in response to recommendations made by the Ornis Committee earlier in the week, to the government for the season to be opened between the 10 and 30 April.

The NGO said that a hunting season for quail during these dates will coincide with the peak migration of the turtle dove. "This will only serve as a smokescreen for hunters to illegally target the turtle dove," the bird conservation group insisted.

Moreover, it said the dates proposed for the 2019 spring hunting season had been moved further backwards when compared to last year’s, which saw the spring hunting season open from 1 to 21 April. The new dates will overlap further onto the period when turtle doves migrate over the Maltese islands.

In the letter, Birdlife referred to the report presented by the hunting lobby calling for the lifting of the moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring. The Ornis Committee will decide on the proposal by the hunting lobby at a meeting next Tuesday.

“It is a pity that while this country has accepted cultural changes more relevant and important than hunting, in this case, the government remains stuck and tied to the past because of the fear of losing votes,” BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said.

He said the group was ready to understand that things do not change suddenly, however, Sultana insisted BirdLife categorically opposed any changes in dates for hunting season of quail and we could never accept a spring hunting season of any form or duration on the turtle dove.

The group said that while it disagreed with any hunting during spring, as birds flying towards their breeding grounds should be protected, allowing the shooting of the turtle dove went against the direction adopted by the EU in terms of the all-year-round protection of this declining species.

Sultana also noted the lack of enforcement, which made matters worse.

A copy of the letter was sent to Environment MinisterJosè Herrera, Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri, EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, BirdLife International CEO Patricia Zurita and IUCN Director GeneralInger Andersen.

More in World