Cyprus Mail

BirdLife criticises state opposition to temporary ban on turtle dove hunting

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BirdLife Cyprus said on Friday it found the opposition of the Game and Fauna Service to the temporary prohibition of hunting to be a shortsighted approach which risks the recovery of a threatened species.

The game service said a week ago that it disagreed with the possible suspension of turtle-dove hunting on the instructions of EU agencies over what Brussels describes as alarmingly decreasing populations throughout Europe.

The government however, the game service said, was against the possible suspension, citing a number of reasons, among them that in Cyprus there was limited number of quarry species to hunt compared with other countries.

BirdLife said EU member states approved the Action Plan for the Turtle Dove, calling it a “particularly hopeful” development for the future of the turtle dove, as it constitutes an important effort for the recovery of the species.

“Unfortunately, however, Cyprus, through the Game and Fauna Service, has expressed its opposition to one of the measures of the Species Action Plan, specifically the temporary prohibition to hunt the species (moratorium),” BirdLife said.  “Despite these objections, the European Commission has emphasised that the restriction of hunting is necessary across the EU, from 2018”.

Opposed to this measure, in addition to Cyprus, are Greece, Bulgaria and Italy.

France, Malta, Spain and Portugal, where the turtle dove is a game species, did not oppose the temporary hunting prohibition. The European Commission emphasised that the member states that have opposed the temporary hunting prohibition cannot continue hunting as they do, and expects to be informed of the measures they will take for the effective reduction of the hunting pressure the turtle doves face, starting in 2018.

BirdLife said it would continue to closely observe the developments, both at a national and European level.

It said the turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) is a migratory species which is globally threatened, with its populations in Europe having declined by 79 per cent from 1980 until 2014.

The reasons that led to its decline are habitat loss, illegal killing, hunting, as well as use of pesticides, draught and climate change.

“The reasons for the decline, as well as the fact that it is a migratory species, emphasize the importance of the collaboration of all stakeholders in the member states for any successful effort for the recovery of the species, from the protection and management of habitats to the management of hunting,” said BirdLife.

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