Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V.
Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

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Europa – 26. 04. 2021

Italy to allow the shooting of Europe’s last Turtle Doves - CABS

Scientists, conservationists and ‘Anti-Mafia icon’ united in protest against “selfish and irresponsible Italian hunting lobby.”

Nature lovers around Europe are shocked and dismayed after the Italian government have revealed their intention to allow the shooting of up to 7.5 million turtle doves – a species of high conservation concern - with sharply declining populations throughout Europe.

The decision was made last week during a meeting of the Italian government with the regions to find an agreement on the protection of the species. While the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition backed by The Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) - supported a 4-year hunting ban of the species, the representatives of the regions, pushed by the Italian hunting federation, have requested permission to resume shooting of up to 15 turtle dove per hunter between 1 – 21 September.

With around 500,000 licensed hunters in Italy, this means that the national bag limit is being set at 7.5 million birds – approximately the entire remaining European breeding population which, according to the European Commission – is estimated at 2.9 – 5.6 million pairs within Europe, with an overall rapid downward trend, especially in Western Europe. 

European populations have plummeted by 30 – 49% in just the last 16 years. In several countries, numbers have collapsed by >90%. Yet, inexplicably, several countries including Italy, still allow these birds to be shot en masse during their hunting seasons. 

Due to the sharp population decline, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently up listed the species conservation status to "globally threatened". 

“Hunting of this species is not sustainable and will accelerate the decline until no birds are left. Driven by their selfish hobby, Italian hunters do not want to renounce their beloved prey. The Federcaccia Italia, member of FACE, the European Hunting Federation, has been lobbying strongly to continue blasting the very last turtle doves from the sky.”, CABS spokesperson Axel Hirschfeld said. 

The conservationist continued that while most regions voted to support the hunting federations proposal, the representative of Calabria, Sergio De Caprio, was the only person in the room to stand up in defence of the turtle doves. De Caprio, aka ‘Captain Ultimo’, is a former police officer with the Carabinieri and was made famous for arresting mafia boss Totò Riina in 1993. He was also the first person in authority to combat illegal hunting in the artificial water ponds created by the Camorra gang around Naples. Now, in his new role as the representative of his home region Calabria, he is trying to save 7.5 million turtle doves from reckless pro-hunting politicians, who want to appease the hunting lobby at all costs, even if this means sacrificing Europe’s last turtle doves.  

De Caprio, together with CABS, and other bird protection organisations sharply criticised the Italian Hunting Federation and their Pan-European umbrella organisation “FACE”, for actively and deliberately undermining all efforts to save the turtle dove in Europe. Pushing them ever closer to the same fate as the passenger pigeons of North America. 

Hirschfeld added, “FACE and their national member organisations have not only done nothing to halt the decline, they have actively accelerated turtle dove declines by defending their so called “right” to shoot until no bird is left. At the same time, politicians are stopping the authorities from doing the right thing and instead do everything to serve the interests of a lobby group."

In recent years, CABS has submitted numerous complaints to the European Commission against member states who have allowed the hunting of bird species with unfavourable conservation status. As a reaction to the decline and to avoid an infringement procedure, France has, for the time being at least, recently banned turtle dove hunting. 


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For more information contact: CABS Press Office, +49 1794803805, +44 7771780165 or Email to CABS@komitee.de