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The Information that BirdLife Malta 'Did Not See'

Regarding what was reported to have been said by BirdLife Malta that "ORNIS recommended hunting in spring despite lack of information", the Federation for Hunting and Conservation - Malta (FKNK) has prepared a summary of the document that it submitted to the Malta ORNIS Committee, including to the representatives of BirdLife Malta, which document contains the information and any necessary scientific data, based on which, the Committee decided to recommend hunting in spring 2023 on the same parameters as the hunting season that took place in spring 2022:

Summary of the document that the FKNK submitted to the Malta ORNIS Committee based on which the Committee decided to recommend hunting in spring 2023:

During the turtle doves hunting seasons of September 2021 and 2022, the FKNK collected statistics of the harvested birds divided between juveniles and adults. The results, on average showed that the taken juveniles were 28% and 40% respectively more than the adults which proportion of turtle doves hunted indicates a positive measure of the sustainability of hunting of the species. This situation is not 'obvious', BirdLife Malta feeble attempt to ridicule in these surveys. The situation would have been of concern if things were the other way around, that is, more adults than offspring, because this would indicate that the species was not reproducing enough. One should also be informed that this type of Survey was proposed by the European Commission itself, and when the FKNK saw that the WBRU (Wild Birds Regulation Unit) did not intend to do these Surveys, the FKNK decided to do them with the volunteering participation of its members.

Moreover, the scientific study that the FKNK carried out, once again through the voluntary participation of its members, during the turtle dove hunting season in the spring of 2022, produced a positive so-called "Sustainable Index" of 0.703, which basically indicates that 70% of turtle doves, which could possibly have been harvested, were not.

A turtle dove from the FKNK Project, which was harnessed with a satellite transmitter and which together with others was released into the wild in 2021 ended up in Bulgaria, while two other turtle doves, similarly harnessed with a transmitter each, which were released into the wild in 2022, completed their journey and ended-up, once again in Bulgaria, and Kosovo. These two countries, of particular interest being Bulgaria, where according to BirdLife International (2017) every year nest from 35,000 to 100,000 pairs of turtle doves, until now were not part of the so-called "reference population countries", that is, those countries where the turtle doves that pass through the Maltese islands nest, and on which collective number of nesting pairs the national quota of how many turtle doves can be taken is calculated. However, and despite this increase in the "reference population countries", for this year the FKNK did not request an increase, as after all it also makes scientific sense, on the 2022 quota of 1500.

The FKNK Turtle Dove Project also achieved one of its primary goals, the "compensatory measure" objective. This because, from 2017 (when the Project was launched) until 2022, the official figure of taken turtle doves by hunting in the Maltese islands amounted to 2134, whereas the amount of turtle doves that were released into the wild on the strength of the Project during the same period of years is 2800.

Here the FKNK is pleased to announce that also as part of the celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary, this year the Project will release back into the wild a record number of turtle doves around May/June.

Another proposal of the FKNK was to introduce a program of further research on the turtle dove, through the traditional (live-capturing) trapping of turtle doves, but under special and strict conditions; in the same turtle dove hunting season; where the catch is taken from the 1500 quota, and which catch is used to strengthen the genetic diversity in the FKNK Turtle Dove Project; however, where every licensed trapper would have been given the opportunity to participate at his discretion after a ban of 16 years. This type of Program is known as "Citizen Science", meaning it is executed by ordinary people (trappers) and not by scientists.

Although the Ornis Committee was not against this proposal, due to logistical and time constraints, the Committee did not see it opportune to make the recommendation of this proposal to the Minister at this point in time.

All the information and data detailed in the FKNK document is fully supported and cited by the necessary workings and literature.

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