The Ornis Committee has voted to ask the government to apply a derogation from the EU's Birds Directive to enable spring hunting for turtle dove and quail, the FKNK hunters' federation said on Tuesday.

The Ornis committee is formed of representatives of the hunters, ornithologists and experts appointed by the government. It advises the government on hunting and the conservation of wild birds. 

The FKNK said the spring season it had proposed will be governed by the same rules as last year's. That means a hunting season for quail between April 10-30  and turtle dove between April 17 and 30.

The hunting hours will be between two hours before dawn up to noon on every day of the season, with the maximum allowed hunting quota of 2,400 quail and 1,500 turtle dove, as was last year's.

The FKNK said it based its proposal on a document it drew up showing 'positive results on the sustainability of turtle dove' that emerged from surveys and scientific studies conducted since 2021 among its members as well as its “Turtle Doves Captive-breeding for Release into the Wild” programme.

The federation said it was urging its members to continue to participate in this study this year once the government upholds the Ornis request for the spring season.

Turtle doves controversy

BirdLife Malta last week called for a moratorium on the spring hunting of turtle dove 

BirdLife Malta has called for a moratorium on spring hunting of turtle dove in view of scientific evidence pointing to the species’ continued decline.

It published a report focused on the turtle dove's status and the reasons why the species should be protected during spring.

BirdLife pointed out that Malta had been stopped from continuing the trapping of turtle doves in the past by way of an Infringement Procedure issued by the European Commission.

"FKNK’s proposal to continue the spring hunting of turtle-doves risks bringing the spring hunting season closer to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) case, given that the European Commission launched an Infringement Procedure with an additional Letter of Formal Notice against Malta in February 2023," the NGO said.


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