The spring hunting season will be kicking off as planned on 17 April after the court turned down conservation NGO BirdLife’s request to disallow the spring hunting of the vulnerable turtle dove.
Following the decision on Friday, BirdLife Malta said it is both “disappointed and surprised that European law on the vulnerable turtle doves was not protected by local courts”.
In a statement, it explained that the court accepted the government’s argument that the season cannot be suspended due to the fact that Legal Notice 116 of 2022 allowing the spring hunting derogation has already been issued and is already in force.
“The Court also decreed that there weren’t sufficient reasons to stop the spring hunting season on turtle dove, effectively accepting the government’s reasoning that there was no evidence that turtle dove numbers are on the decrease, despite the fact that the endangered species is listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with a number of countries also halting its hunting in autumn, let alone in spring,” the NGO said.
Meanwhile, the hunter’s federation (FKNK) welcomed the court’s decision, calling it a “historical win”.
On Wednesday, the civil court had decided to provisionally accept a Warrant for Prohibitory Injunction filed by the conservation NGO to stop the spring hunting season of the bird. FKNK had then filed a request against the warrant of prohibitory injunction.
The warrant of prohibitory injunction was also revoked on Friday.
Last year, shortly after the turtle dove migration over Malta began, Birdlife had said it was “inundated” with reports from members of the public witnessing illegal hunting of the protected bird from “all over the Maltese Islands”.
The European turtle dove is classified as ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The national bag limit for spring hunting turtle dove in Malta is 1,500 birds, although it’s an open secret that bag limits are almost impossible to control. Data gathered over the years of spring hunting derogations clearly shows this.
The decree was given by Madame Justice Audrey Demicoli.