Spain is key to avoiding the extinction of the turtle-dove as it hosts more than half of the EU’s breeding population, between 2.4 million and 4.2 million.
Thirteen autonomous regions are ignoring Brussels and allowing this symbol of eternal love to be hunted, despite the country’s implication in the species’ dwindling numbers.
The European Union (EU) authorities maintain that hunting (which starts now in 13 of Spain’s autonomous regions and continues until September 8) is being allowed at unsustainable levels, causing the population to fall. Only the regional authorities in Asturias, Cantabria, Valencia and the Canary Islands, along with the Álava Provincial Council in Basque Country, have outlawed the hunting of this bird, whose population has declined by 40% in the last two decades and by almost 80% in Europe since 1980.
This monogamous bird, which symbolizes eternal love, has also become one of the many victims of the radical change in rural life including the lack of preserving the bird’s habitat and designating appropriate conservation areas, taking into account breeding and the need for rest as the birds embark on their long-haul 4,000-kilometre flight to Africa.
The European Commission has recently opened a case against Spain on this subject, with hope that serious measure will be applied soon.