To the exasperation of the hunters, the turtledoves will have at least one more year of respite. There will be no allowable death quota in the 2022-2023 season. They expected "a minimum rate" after, they say, the commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture to allow hunting this year in exchange for "recovery work".
But the situation of this emblematic and coveted species is not flattering. This has been confirmed by the closed order of the Community of Madrid published on May 3: "A zero capture quota is established," he writes. "While an adaptive management plan is approved, analogously to other autonomous communities, hunting is not allowed this season." Many communities have yet to publish their regulations.
The point is that, beyond the considerations of the hunters, Spain still has a European sanctioning file pending for not adequately protecting the turtle doves. In February 2021, the Government sent a response to try to avoid the Court of Justice. It placed the sustainable quota at 400,000 specimens hunted per year. More than a year later, the Commission is still "evaluating Spain's response," a spokesman replied.
That European turtle doves are declining is a reality that has been reported in scientific texts for decades. Warnings by Spanish researchers can be traced back to at least 1992. At that time, zoologists such as Francisco Purroy, described that "the pronounced decline in the nesting populations of Tortola is the result of a combination of summer and winter habitat deterioration, agricultural intensification and overhunting."
In fact, the 1992 Spanish Red Book of Vertebrates included this bird. This official publication with the seal of the Ministry of Agriculture, contained a card for the turtle dove that warned that "in general it is a rare and local species." And he added: "The breeding population has experienced a clear decline since the mid-1970s. A strong decline in migrant birds has also been observed, especially evident in some traditional steps in northern Spain."
that token, pointed to the causes of the threat: habitat destruction, changes in agriculture, use of herbicides and "excessive hunting pressure". Among the conservation measures, it called for the "prohibition of hunting in Spain for four years and, in any case, reducing the number of captures." In 2001, the list of threatened species in Andalusia created by the Andalusian Government identified the "overhunting" of the turtledove as a "threat" and included in the conservation measures "prohibiting its hunting for a minimum period of four years".
Despite these proposals, the turtle dove hunting continued without slowing down. The official data offered by Agriculture is not very up-to-date, it only goes up to 2018. From 2005 to 2018, 9.3 million specimens were officially killed. The decline of populations "is a contradictory circumstance with its condition as a huntable species", I wrote down this analysis carried out from the Laboratory of Zoology and Entomology of the School of Forestry Engineers in 2013. Only the sanctioning file of the European Commission has led to the temporary paralysis of the activity.
Even so, the directors of the Spanish Hunting Federation have expressed "absolute disappointment after the commitment made by Luis Planas' team, as a result of the incessant work that we hunters have been carrying out to recover the species in exchange for a minimum rate of extraction" .
However, the same Ministry of Agriculture has approved 50% co-financing for two projects developed by the hunting lobby, the Artemisán Foundation, budgeted at 1.3 million euros. Among them, this organization promotes the collection of information "from hundreds of hunters" to use their data "in the correct decision making". A few weeks ago managed to delay the protection of the quail endorsed by the Scientific Committee of the Government when sending this type of information through the Ministry of Agriculture.