The text has not yet been published in the Official Journal, but it can be consulted on the website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. A new decree should extend the suspension of turtle dove hunting in France by one year, until July 30, 2024, the previous moratorium having ended on July 30, 2023. will be taken over, ”says Yves Verilhac, former director general of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO). The Ministry of Ecological Transition is content to indicate that the decree is for signature.
This migratory bird has been classified since 2015 in the red list of threatened species in France by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. According to ministerial statistics, its breeding population fell by 48% between 1989 and 2015 and by 44% in the last ten years on national territory. But its hunting was still authorized in 2019-2020. A ministerial decree then set that a maximum number of 18,000 individuals could be taken during this hunting season.
The same quota had been established for 2020-2021. Seized by the LPO, the Council of State had suspended these two decrees on the grounds that the state of the populations “should have led the government to ban the hunting of turtle doves, and not to reduce proportionally the maximum quota of takings” . This decision had prompted the government to suspend the hunting of doves in 2021, a decision renewed in 2022.
France was also under pressure from the European Commission, which had sent it a formal notice in 2019, while threatening to appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The authority criticized him for having granted these quotas and for not having taken sufficient measures to preserve the habitat of the species. The decline in numbers on the Old Continent, of the order of 80% since the 1980s, is in fact partly explained by the disappearance of hedges, groves and fallow land. “Yes, but it is hunting that is today the number one danger for the turtle dove, continues Yves Verilhac. A one-year moratorium makes no sense. It would take at least five years for the population to recover. »
For their part, hunters continue to campaign against this ban, defending the principle of “adaptive management”. “We are once again mistaken for the target: let hunting in France respect any acceptable rules and quotas, so hunters and their federations will also continue to work to protect habitats”, writes a contributor as part of the public consultation. launched on the subject of the draft order.
With hunting closed at this time of year, the government still has a few days to go before officially extending the current suspension. Defenders of birds and enthusiasts of hunting agree on at least one point: the effects of the decisions taken on this side of the Mediterranean will remain limited as long as Europeans take advantage of offers from travel organizations to kill turtledoves by the thousands. in Morocco.