France bans turtle dove hunting after numbers drop by 80%

The ban will last until at least July 30, 2022, but bird protection group the LPO says that it does not go far enough and will not give the ‘species in agony’ time to recover

A European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France. France bans turtle dove hunting after numbers drop by 80%
A European turtle dove in Pyrénées-Orientales, France. Numbers of the birds have dropped significantly in 40 years
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France has banned the hunting of turtle doves, with scientists estimating that numbers of the migratory bird have dropped by 80% in the past 40 years in Europe.

The government banned the practice on August 28. The ban extends throughout mainland France and Corsica and is currently set to last until July 30, 2022.

It comes after the population of the bird has dropped by 80% in Europe over the past four decades, recent studies show. As a result, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) placed the species on its ‘vulnerable red list’.

It had been protected by le Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, in 2020. The government had authorised the hunting of 17,460 turtle doves in August 2020, but this was suspended a month later by le Conseil d’Etat.

And yesterday, the ecology ministry issued a decree in le Journal Officiel. It reads: “Until July 30, 2022, the hunting of turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) is banned across the whole of the metropolitan area.”

Ahead of the hunting season of 2021, the government had said it planned to ban all hunting of the bird.

Yet, bird welfare organisation La Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO) has said that as the ban will only be in place until next year, it does not go far enough.

In a statement, the LPO said: “We struggle to see how France can continue to allow the hunting of this species, which is in agony. We deplore that this ban has not been taken for at least five years, as the species will have no chance of getting back up to a satisfactory state in the short or medium-term.”

But national hunting federation la Fédération nationale de la chasse (FNC) has said that the practice should be permitted as it comes under the umbrella of ‘traditional hunting’.

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