Israel is set to extend wildlife protections to two types of birds, banning the hunting of turtle doves for three years and banning the hunting of quail altogether, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg announced Wednesday.
The move to ban hunting of turtle doves for three years comes at the request for the Convention on the United Nations’ Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which has requested that all of its member states enact similar bans. This is in order to launch research on how much hunting has impacted the decline of the global turtle dove population.
“There has been about a 30% decrease in Israel’s turtle dove population for the past 30 years, and the global decline is probably even greater,” Dan Alon, of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), told The Jerusalem Post.
The turtle dove has been recognized as a vulnerable species.
The banning of quail, however, is a different matter altogether. The bird has been listed as a critically endangered species on Israel’s Red List, and according to SPNI there has been a push to get it removed from the list of animals allowed to be hunted in Israel during hunting season.
The new bans are set to go into effect August 11, ahead of Israel’s hunting season, which starts in early September.
The Nature and Parks Authority came out in support of Zandberg’s move, with chief scientist Yehoshua Shakedi saying that it was a “necessary step to protect the species.”
Last year, SPNI started a campaign to stop recreational hunting. However, this didn’t succeed. “Now, we’re pushing to stop the hunting of endangered and at-risk species,” Alon explained, adding that their goal is still to end hunting for sport.
“SPNI has been trying to work to change hunting laws to stop recreational hunting and to remove various species from the list of legal game for hunters. We have been trying to do this for many years,” SPNI’s Yehonotan Meravtold told the Post at the time. “In order to make this sort of change, we need to go through Knesset. But the hunters have a powerful lobby, and almost all previous attempts were unsuccessful.
“We had one success, when we removed the Chucker, which is a type of partridge that was nearly on the brink of extinction, from the list, but that was because of the help we had from Omri Sharon, the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who as a former hunter and a noted outdoorsman. This is the only time we were successful.”
The hunting season in Israel allows hunters to kill hundreds of thousands of birds over a four month period. This is despite the number of licensed hunters in Israel only being around 2,000 in total, all of whom get their licenses from the Nature and Parks Authority.
However, while hunting endangered animals such as Israeli gazelles and porcupines is illegal, hundreds are still killed by hunters every year, and the poachers don’t face any consequences that are severe enough to act as a deterrent.
This article by Aaron Reich was first published by The Jerusalem Post on 4 August 2021. Lead Image: A hunter surveys the landscape (photo credit: Eyal Bartov).
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