Wild Birds Regulation Unit refutes Birdlife Malta’s claims

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Wild Birds Regulation Unit refutes Birdlife Malta’s claims"Scientific assessment reflected in the hunting season's special measures," the Wild Birds Regulation Unit said, adding that it refutes claims made by Birdlife Malta on Saturday.

"Whilst respecting Birdlife Malta's legitimate right to criticise policy decisions and to campaign for the abolition of hunting in spring, the NGO is not correct in its claims that the government has "ignored" scientific advice when deciding on the parameters of this year's spring hunting derogation," the WBRU said.

It said that contrary to these claims, the Government thoroughly considered detailed scientific assessment of the conservation status of turtle dove and quail, together with the results of independent bird migration studies, hunting bag statistics, and other data.

"Furthermore, the Government took note of the fact that the Ornis Committee – of which Birdlife Malta forms part – dedicated three sessions to discussing matters related to this year's derogation, prior to unanimously recommending to the Government the opening of this year's season, subject to special measures to reduce the potential impact of hunting on the population of turtle dove."

The WBRU said that, "the measures subsequently adopted in line with this recommendation included a reduction of the length of the season by 33%, a 20% reduction in permitted hunting hours on weekdays, a 55% reduction in the maximum permitted spring quota of turtle dove, the shortening of the autumn hunting season for turtle dove from five months to one month, and the imposition of a national quota in the autumn."

"Although turtle dove has now been included in EU Red Data List, the species still remains legally huntable under the EU Birds Directive; indeed, over three million birds are hunted annually throughout the EU."

"Notwithstanding the deterioration in the conservation status of turtle dove, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its recommended Conservation and Research Actions, does not contemplate a ban on turtle dove hunting in autumn or spring, and instead calls for restrictions that aim to develop a level of hunting which is sustainable," the Unit said.

The WBRU concluded by saying that "the decision of the Maltese Government is fully in line with this recommendation."

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