Ornis Committee recommends spring hunting season despite warning from Brussels

Hunting consultative body recommends spring hunting season for quail and turtle dove with unchanged conditions from last year

Spring hunting season recommended despite European Commission warning
Spring hunting season recommended despite European Commission warning

The Ornis Committee is recommending the opening of a spring hunting season on turtle doves and quails next month despite a European Commission warning.

The season is expected to be the same as 2022 with quail hunting allowed from 10 April to 30 April and turtle dove hunting from 17 April to 30 April, both days included.

Hunting will take place from two hours before sunrise to noon and the national bag quotas will remain unchanged at 2,400 for quails and 1,500 for turtle doves.

Ornis is a consultative body and its recommendation will have to be taken on board by Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, who is responsible for hunting.

Hunting organisation FKNK said its proposal for a spring trapping season for turtle dove that would be part of the quota was welcomed but could not be recommended this year because of the short timeframe to organise the logistics.

FKNK had proposed the live-capture of turtle dove be allowed to enable the organisation to diversify the genetic pool of its breed-and-release programme.

The recommendation comes on the back of a European Commission warning in February over Malta’s decision to open a spring hunting season on the vulnerable turtle dove last year.

Brussels sent a formal letter of warning, which is the first in a three-step process that can lead to action being taken against Malta in the European Court of Justice.

Spring hunting is not allowed across the EU but Malta obtained the right to apply a derogation for a limited spring season for just two species after a 2009 ECJ ruling said that autumn was not a successful alternative.

However, since then the turtle dove has been declared a vulnerable species and government introduced a moratorium on spring hunting of the bird in 2017 that was lifted last year.