Europa – 09. 09. 2020
EU countries open season to allow the shooting of millions of endangered turtledoves
Hunting season for threatened migratory birds begins in southern Europe
Bonn/Brussels. Despite dramatic declines in population numbers, many EU countries will be reopening the hunt for migratory birds for the pot in the coming days. On the shooting list are the turtle dove, Germany's bird of the year 2020, and many other endangered species that will move to their wintering grounds in autumn. Around 52 million wild birds are legally killed by hunters across Europe every year, according to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS). In addition, there are several hundred thousand birds that either go unreported or subsequently die of their injuries.
By far the highest number of birds killed is reported by France, where a total of 63 bird species are released for shooting. In most départements, the hunting season this year begins on 13 or 20 September and lasts until the end of January. According to hunting statistics from the National Hunting and Wildlife Agency (ONCFS), French hunters kill around 17 million wild birds each year, including turtle doves, skylarks, water rail, lapwings, curlews, redshanks and snipes. All these species are highly endangered throughout their European range.
In Malta, a total of 32 migratory bird species have already been opened to shooting or trapping since 1 September. The list of huntable species includes, among others, turtle doves, golden plovers, skylarks and ruff, which is threatened with extinction in many parts of north western Europe.
In Italy, a total of 34 bird species are on the official shooting list, including blackbirds, song thrushes, starlings and the species threatened in Germany, water rail, skylark, turtledove, lapwing and snipe. The hunting season in most regions traditionally begins on the third Sunday in September. The annual number of game birds shot in Italy is around seven million, including 300,000 turtle doves and more than 4.5 million songbirds.
In Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Austria, the shooting of turtle doves and many other threatened species will also be allowed again from mid-September onwards. The breeding population of turtle doves throughout Europe is estimated to be between 2,340,000 – 4,050,000 breeding pairs. Yet, between two and three million turtle doves are killed each year in the EU. Most of the animals end up in the cooking pot. According to data from the British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) turtle dove numbers in the UK have declined rapidly by -93% since the 1970s, with around just 3500 territories remaining. Thus, making them the fastest declining bird species in UK. For years, conservationists have been criticised the fact that hunting endangered migratory birds accelerates or contributes to their decline. "The shooting down of millions of declining species cannot be sustainable and endangers costly conservation projects in breeding areas," says Lloyd Scott, Campaigns Officer with Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS). As governments of the affected countries are unwilling to do anything about it voluntarily out of fear of the powerful hunting lobby, in recent months, CABS have filed environmental complaints against France, Italy and Spain with the EU Commission. The aim of the campaign is to establish a Europe-wide closed season for all migratory bird species threatened with continual population decline.