The archipelago nation of Malta has decided to continue its spring tradition of hunting migratory European turtle doves. The move comes despite the species’ recent addition to the IUCN “red list” of endangered species. Conservationists have expressed outrage at the country’s decision to reduce the allowance for hunted birds from 11,000 to 5,000 instead of ending the practice altogether.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added the doves to the “red list,” marking them as dangerously at risk for extinction. The Maltese government, the only country in the European Union to allow recreational spring hunting, has been permitted to continue the “sport” as long as the birds’ numbers stayed within a favorable range. The scientific community is pleading with the EU to take action against Malta for breaching the ruling, given that the doves’ numbers are no longer favorable.

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The Guardian spoke to the chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, Eduardo Gonçalves, who said, “It’s absolutely incomprehensible that the Maltese government can justify allowing the spring hunt to go ahead for another year. The science shows that the turtle dove is in serious decline but instead of listening to the science the Maltese government has bowed to a vociferous hunting lobby.” He goes on to encourage people to contact their members of the European Parliament to demand they take action, which could include issuing a fine.

Voters in Malta rejected a ban on spring hunting by a 50.4 percent vote last year. Clearly the tradition is held dear by many citizens, yet it is time that tradition catches up with the reality – and the gravity – of the turtle dove population’s plight. Reducing harm is not a substitute for ending harm altogether.

Via The Guardian

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