Saving Turtle Doves on a grand scale

Saving Turtle Doves on a grand scale

The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur has become a symbol of bird conservation. It is threatened by habitat loss on both its European breeding grounds and its African wintering grounds. Besides this, several million hunters have traditionally exercised their right to shoot Turtle Doves across the Mediterranean region, taking in excess of a million birds annually of an estimated 8 million individuals available (adults and their young). There is increasing evidence that such levels of harvest are unsustainable, and that they will inevitably lead to the species’ demise. However, it is also true that Turtle Doves are generally more abundant and doing less badly in countries such as Spain, France and Italy, where they are shot, than in countries like the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, where they are not. A Spanish hunter once passionately put it this way: ‘Look at the UK, they stopped hunting Turtle Doves and now they haven’t got any!’

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