The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

Ornis recommends quail hunting season between 10 and 30 April, during peak turtle dove migration

Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 12:34 Last update: about 6 months ago

The Ornis committee will be recommending to the government to open a quail hunting season between 10 and 30 April, while a request by the hunting federation to lift a moratorium on the hunting of turtle doves in spring will be discussed next week.

Sources told The Malta Independent that while the recommendation thus fur is for the hunting of quail, the dates of this year’s hunting season will lie smack in the peak of turtle dove migration.


Birdlife Malta and the representative of the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) were the only Ornis committee members who voted against the recommendation, which is almost always accepted by the government.

The sources explained that turtle dove migration over Malta reaches its peak towards the last part of April. Last year, the season was open between 1 and 21 April.

Earlier on Wednesday, the FKNK said it had submitted a report “Traditional Turtle Dove Hunting in Spring on the Maltese Islands – Lifting of the Moratorium” to Government and to the Nationalist Party.

“The report is based on research and studies that the FKNK have undertaken since the introduction of the moratorium in 2016 which has prevented the application of derogation to permit the hunting of the turtle dove in spring in 2017 and 2018,” the federation said.
 “On the basis of the Findings, Results, Discussions and relative validation analysis made in the Report, the FKNK believes that the Maltese Government can immediately lift the Moratorium in force at present.  Additionally, and since the Report thoroughly demonstrates that Malta’s turtle dove spring harvest has a nil effect on the breeding populations in Europe’s reference population countries, the Government can apply derogation to permit turtle doves hunting already in the spring of 2019.”
The report has been carried out without prejudice to the hunting of the quail in spring, the FKNK said. 
 “Notwithstanding, and in consideration of the current scenario, since the report has been undertaken with the clear objective that it is used for the long term continuation of the traditional socio-cultural passion of turtle dove hunting in spring, the FKNK urges the Government to show its political will and immediately open discussions with the European Commission for a long term solution to be reached on the matter,” FKNK said.

Reacting, BirdLife Malta said it adamantly opposes the suggestion made by the hunting lobby that the Government opens a hunting season for Turtle Dove during spring. 

In a press conference held earlier today in reaction to this, BirdLife Malta explained why the conclusion that “hunting of Turtle Doves during spring has no effect on the vulnerable species’ population” does not hold water.

It said that the argument that hunting Turtle Dove during spring does not have a negative impact on the species is not being proven by the FKNK. Birdlife also insisted that two years is not a long enough period to determine whether a moratorium in spring can have a positive effect on the Turtle Dove’s status.

During Wednesday evening’s Ornis meeting it was agreed that the FKNK document would be circulated among all members for evaluation. The committee is to meet again on Tuesday to decide on the request. 

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