Europa – 07. 05. 2021
Let’s FACE the facts about turtle dove Hunting in Europe
This week, The European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) have issued a statement refuting our recent press release regarding the Italian Government’s decision to allow >500,000 Italian hunters to shoot a bag of 15 turtle dove each this autumn. They state that this is factually incorrect and misleading.
While we acknowledge that it’s near impossible for Italian hunters to shoot >7.5 million turtle dove this autumn - there simply aren’t that many migrating through Italy anymore! - it’s important to point out that this decision moves the goalposts so far that any regulatory hunting controls are useless; and means that the season is essentially a free-for-all on every single turtle dove that passes! What is 15 x 500,000 again?
FACE go on to state that “a quick fact-check shows that ‘only’ 135,000 birds are harvested [in Italy].” However, while compiling figures for our peer review report ‘Bird hunting in Europe: an analysis of the bag figures and the potential impact on the conservation of threatened species’ (British Birds 112, 2019) it was revealed that the quality of available bag data in Italy is extremely poor due to inconsistent reporting methodologies across different regions. This coupled with the fact that only around a quarter of all regions report ANY bag statistics to the European Commission, means that anyone should easily conclude that the true numbers of turtle dove being shot each year are MUCH higher than reported!
Furthermore, FACE state that “thousands of hectares are actively managed for Turtle Dove by the hunting community, costing hundreds of thousands of euros from hunters’ funds.” – We would like to see what metric data is available on this. What does that actually even mean in real terms?
“In fact, the greatest turtle dove losses are in those countries with no hunting such as the UK, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, which have lost around 90% of their birds.” Does it not occur to FACE that perhaps turtle dove are no longer reaching the north westerly extremities of their traditional range as a direct result of habitat loss AND over-hunting along the way?
To think of migratory bird conservation solely in terms of Member States is a huge mistake: the root causes of a collapse in one countries population cannot only be found solely within that country, but all along the migratory flyway.
The entire European breeding population of turtle dove is estimated at 2.9 – 5.6 million pairs within Europe; and even the most conservative estimates show that between 2 – 4 million birds are legally shot in Europe each year. Add poaching to the mix and it becomes crystal clear that well over half of the entire European population are being legally shot each year.
“Perhaps you might reflect on why the UK and other non-hunting countries are failing so miserably to conserve the species, before wrongly blaming Italian hunters.” And yes, it should also be pointed out that Italy represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to turtle dove hunting in Europe. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Austria, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria ALL plan to open a season for Turtle Dove again this autumn. France is the only country that traditionally allows turtle dove hunting which has temporarily suspended it after the ‘Conseil d'Etat’ acknowledged a population collapse of 80% in just 15 years.
As ever, FACE are actively defending their members´ self-proclaimed 'right' to shoot millions of individuals from endangered species such as the turtle dove, skylark and lapwing thus undermining conservation efforts throughout Europe and beyond.
Opening a hunting season on ANY turtle dove does not amount to sustainable hunting, nor ‘conservation' by any rational logic. To claim such, is simply distorting the facts to fit with a destructive agenda that is rapidly pushing turtle doves into the history books and distant memories of our older generations.
To state that shooting the last European turtle doves is ‘simply sensational’ could not be further from the truth. Is it not grossly sensational to state under reported figures as a ‘fact’ that reflects the reality of situation and to trivialise the man-made collapse of an entire species simply because of a selfish ‘hobby’? – you be the judge.
Indeed, “You just can’t make this stuff up.”
· You can read our initial Press Release here (26.4.2021): https://www.komitee.de/de/aktuelles/presse-meldungen/2021/italy-to-allow-the-shooting-of-europes-last-turtle-doves-cabs/
· The Independent article is here (27.04.2021): https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italy-turtle-doves-hunt-kill-b1838163.html
· FACE open letter here (05.05.2021): https://www.face.eu/2021/05/letter-face-independent/