A Greek conservation NGO has called on the Environment Ministry to take measures to end the illegal hunting of turtle doves in springtime.
The activity, illegal in Greece since 1983, “turns the Ionian Islands into an altar of sacrifice of thousands of exhausted migratory turtle doves,” the Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece said in a press release.
“Spring hunting constitutes a real crime against turtle doves arriving exhausted and emaciated from their long migrations – a crime victimizing birds coming to Europe to nest,” it added. Spring poaching is “especially troublesome” in the Ionian Islands, in Western Greece, where, despite the decades-long prohibition, it is still considered a “traditional” activity, it said.
Last year, the HOS/BirdLife Greece compiled plans with local authorities on Zakynthos, Paxoi and Antipaxos, Corfu and Othonoi and support from the Ministry of Environment.
“Unfortunately, a year later, we officially ascertain that the state has done absolutely nothing so far, once again turning its back on an international crime against wildlife and allowing a practice which irreparably affects a globally endangered species and the reputation of the Ionian Sea as an international tourist destination to continue thanks to its inaction and tolerance,” the NGO said.
It also called on the local community “to show zero tolerance for this delinquent behavior.” Even with the restrictions on movement imposed this year to tackle the pandemic, there have already been reports of migrating birds “being greeted with bullets.”