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France bans turtledove hunting for 2020-21 as numbers drop

The French Conseil d’Etat has banned woodland turtledove hunting in France for the 2020-21 season, in a U-turn on a previous ministerial decision to allow it.

The highest administrative court in France banned the practice for the 2020-21 season, on Friday September 11. The 2020-21 season had been set to run from August 29 to February 20, 2021.

This decision overturns a decree of August 28 by the ecology ministry, which had authorised the hunting of 17,460 woodland turtle doves for the season ahead.

The U-turn decision comes as the woodland turtledove population has dropped significantly in Europe, and several bird protection associations had lobbied against the authorisation of hunting for the 2020-21 season.

The Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) is particularly against the practice.

The Conseil d’Etat judgement said: “[The Council] notes that as the species has dropped by 80% in 15 years, experts recommend a hunting ban for this wild bird - and the government has not brought any arguments allowing it to justify its authorisation [of hunting].”

The decision also comes as the European Commission has requested that the French state “put in place all measures” to help the woodland turtledove population return to a “good state of conservation”, the LPO said.

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