Friday, August 2, 2019

Spain going to court for not adequately protecting European Turtle Dove?

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” - Jane Goodall

The European Commission will take Spain to court for not adequately protecting European Turtle Dove. The EC has just announced an infringement procedure that may end up in court within a few months if the administrations do not take action: Brussels accuses Spain of not adequately protecting the European Turtle Dove, a beautiful bird of our countryside. The blame? Bad agricultural policies and, once again, hunting. The European Commission has opened an infringement procedure against Spain for continuing to allow hunting of the European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and for not adequately protecting its habitat. In Spain, only four autonomous communities have approved moratoriums against hunting this species: Asturias, Cantabria, the Canary Islands and, since July 15, the Valencian Community.

Specifically, the Commission has just announced the initiation of proceedings against Spain and France for breach of Articles 3, 4 and 7 of the Birds Directive. These articles oblige Member States to maintain the population levels of bird species, especially migratory bird species, ensuring that there is sufficient diversity of habitats both inside and outside protected areas. Member States also have an obligation to ensure that hunting of any species of bird does not jeopardize conservation efforts.

Since 2018 there is a European Action Plan for the Conservation of the Turtle Dove and BirdLife International claims its instigation since then. The plan includes measures to preserve and restore favourable habitats for the Turtle Dove and, in addition, emergency actions such as establishing a temporary moratorium on hunting the species.

In addition, in compliance with the EU Birds Directive and, in Spain, with the Law of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, the hunting of this species should not be authorized, at a minimum, until their populations recover. However, in the last season hunting was re-authorized by the Spanish Government with a level of catches similar to the previous one, which could have led to the death of some 800,000 Turtle Doves in Spain, well above what the species can withstand, an unsustainable and unacceptable scenario.

Spain has lost a quarter of it's Turtle Doves!!

Spanish hunters say they are not to blame for the European Turtle Dove population being low. They even claim that a major fault is that they are hunted a lot in Morocco..
But it turns out that it is the Spanish hunters who fundamentally go to Morocco to exterminate the species. It is about exterminating just for fun, there is no other interest other than fun for these hunters!
In Spain, the European Turtle Dove population has fallen 25% in two decades, according to BirdLife International censuses. Across the EU, the European Turtle Dove population has fallen by 50 to 70 percent and, in some countries, the crash reaches 90%, like the United Kingdom, where it has virtually disappeared. Being a migratory species, the actions or omissions of countries such as Spain affect the whole of the species throughout the continent: this species makes an impressive journey of 4,000 kilometers every year from sub-Saharan Africa, where it winters, to its breeding areas in Europe.

The threat of intensive agriculture

In addition to hunting, this species also experiences the suffering of many agricultural birds: the intensification of agriculture, the loss of fallows or the elimination of shrubs and other vegetation on the edge of farms and roads, hinder the subsistence of these and other agrarian birds.

According to the Commission's complaint, no national government has initiated the so-called “emergency agro-environmental measures” to protect these migratory species. However, on this occasion, the European Commission has considered that the breach of these agri-environmental measures deserves to be prosecuted, something quite unusual to date, since the Commission had been reluctant to admonish countries for their bad agricultural policies. The results of this process are expected to be relevant for the design and implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Companies in Europe still advertising hunting Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove hunting is allowed in eleven of the member estates of the EU, where large numbers of turtle doves are hunted annually.

Also Morocco for Western European migrating Turtle Dove:





United Kingdom:

Background Information ( abstract from a presentation at the 33rd International Union of Game Biologist Congress. Citation ref: )

Turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) is a trans-Saharan migratory species recently up-listed to Vulnerable status in the Red List of Threatened Species. Breeding populations of Turtle Doves are declining throughout Europe, declines being particularly severe in certain countries (e.g: England, where the population has declined by 93% since 1995). Current estimates attribute 75% of the global breeding population to Europe, the remainder occurring in North Africa and Asia. This fact is especially relevant since Turtle Dove hunting is allowed in eleven of the member estates of the EU, where large numbers of turtle doves are hunted annually. The European country where the greatest amount of Turtle Doves is hunted is Spain (around 701.600 birds in 2014), through which also passes the main migratory route for western European Turtle Dove populations (also Morocco). We analyzed Turtle Dove population trends for the different regions of Spain and for the whole country using available data from SACRE (Spanish contribution to the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Schemes (PECBMS) designed by the European Bird Census Council, and carried out in Spain by SEO/Birdlife International). Data from this program (kindly provided by SEO) included observations of Turtle Doves in 10x10 km quadrats in most of the Spanish regions from 1996 to 2016. Additionally, we compiled the number of birds hunted in each region from the official hunting statistics available since 2006 in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing, Food and Environment (before 2006, official statistics did not separate Turtle Doves hunted from other bird species). We show that Turtle Dove abundance in Spain declined around 40% since 1996. The decline happened in most of Spanish regions and it was especially remarkable in the North, where hunting is relative unimportant. Therefore, it seems that hunting is not the main reason behind the declines. Nonetheless, annual variation in the number of Turtle Doves hunted in each region was unrelated to annual variation in turtle dove abundance. Globally, hunting pressure (numbers shot) has not significantly diminished since 2006, despite observed population declines. Thus, although hunting is not the main driver of the decline, results also indicate that it could be an aggravating factor, and that current tools to determine the number of Turtle Doves that may be hunted are not efficient enough, or not correctly applied.

No comments: