The EU Action Plan for the Turtle Dove is a major step forward for the protection of this threatened species, but only if the measures proposed are put into action, including the restriction of hunting.
The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur is now a globally threatened species and needs our help. Over the last 30 years, the European population has decreased by 79%. Habitat loss, illegal killing, hunting, pesticide use, droughts and climate change are the main reasons behind this dramatic decline. This is why the EU has developed and has recently adopted a Species Action Plan for the Turtle Dove, an important and hopeful development for the recovery of the species.
Every year, turtle doves travel thousands of kilometers to spend the summer in Europe before embarking on their journey towards south Africa where they will spend the winter. In Cyprus, a number of turtle doves stay here to breed during the summer, while many more pass from our island during migration. The threats faced by a migratory species such as the Turtle Dove highlight the importance of a coordinated effort by all the countries found along its migratory route.
The Action Plan outlines what needs to be done across the Turtle Dove’s range, including a temporary prohibition on hunting of the species, since it’s a game species. Unfortunately, however, Cyprus, through the Game and Fauna Service, has expressed its opposition to this temporary hunting prohibition. We find the opposition of the Game and Fauna Service to this measure to be a shortsighted approach, which risks the recovery of a threatened species. Opposed to this measure, in addition to Cyprus, are Greece, Bulgaria and Italy. However, it is worth noting that France, Malta, Spain and Portugal, where the Turtle Dove is also a game species, did not oppose the temporary hunting prohibition.
Despite these objections, the European Commission has emphasized that the restriction of hunting is necessary across the EU, from 2018. The European Commission emphasized 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.
In the framework of our work to protect birds (game species and non-game species) and their habitats, we will continue to observe closely the developments on this subject, both at a national and European level.