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Sunday, 26 May 2024, from Buskett Gardens, the Federation for Hunting and Conservation – Malta (FKNK) released around 400 turtle doves into the wild.

These birds had been bred, fledged and raised in captivity in the project’s main aviary at Għammieri of the FKNK “Turtle Doves Captive Breeding and Release into the Wild”.  This will be the third year when in the coming days the FKNK will also release seven GPS tagged turtle doves.

The project is partly financed by the Wild Birds Conservation Fund and enjoys the support and handsome donations of organisations within the FKNK and several individual FKNK members.

The project forms part of FKNK initiatives and has also had a significant bearing on the reopening of the traditional turtle dove spring hunting season in 2022, 2023 and 2024 following a five-year respective moratorium.

Results from 3 GPS tagged birds that were released in 2021 (1) and 2022 (2), indicate that the number of so termed “reference population countries” should also include Bulgaria and Kosovo.  Moreover, the project has not only achieved one of its main objectives, “the compensatory measure”, but even surpassed it, as since the project’s launch in 2017 up to 2022, the project has released over 2800 birds, when the official bag records of turtle doves during the same period of years stands at 2134 harvested turtle doves.

The main purpose of the project is to increase the wild population (not for hunting purposes, and therefore any release is affected during the hunting closed season).  This is the only tangible contribution that Malta has to offer towards the conservation of this species in the wild, simply because turtle doves do not regularly breed in any considerable numbers in the wild on the Maltese islands.  In addition, the amount released may serve as a compensatory measure for any turtle doves that may be taken from the wild in the Maltese islands.  An objective, which has not only been accomplished by 2022, but moreover bettered as explained above.

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