The Federation for Hunting and Conservation - Malta (FKNK) have released more than 400 turtle doves into the wild on the occassion of Bird Migration World Day.

In a statement published on Saturday, FKNK said since the launch of its project ‘Turtle Dove Captive-breeding and Release into the Wild’ in 2017, they have released hundreds of turtle doves annually into the wild.  

The project has been mired in controversy.

Last year nearly all the protected birds in the state-sponsored tracking programme died within days of their release, according to the international suppliers of the monitoring equipment.

The birds are bred in captivity and released into the wild during the bird migration period whilst the hunting season is closed, the FKNK explained.

"The released turtle doves eventually migrate to other countries, as was scientifically proven by use of satellite transmitters in 2021 where one Turtle dove successfully migrated to Bulgaria," the lobby group added.

FKNK have plans to release an additional number of the species equipped with satellite transmitters later this year, they said.

These satellite transmitters are financed by the Responsible Gaming Foundation (RGF) as a result of intervention by the Honourable Minister Silvio Schembri.

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