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Hunters shoot endangered turtledoves despite calls to spare them

Nature activists trying to get hunting for sport banned, but body in charge of issuing licenses claims it’s powerless unless 1955 Animal Welfare Law amended

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A European turtle dover shot dead by a 'sport' hunter in the Hula Valley in northern Israel, September 2, 2020. (KKL-JNF Chief Birdwatcher, Yaron Cherka)
A European turtle dover shot dead by a 'sport' hunter in the Hula Valley in northern Israel, September 2, 2020. (KKL-JNF Chief Birdwatcher, Yaron Cherka)

Hunters kicked off the Israeli hunting season on September 1 by shooting quantities of European turtledoves, despite calls by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel to spare the species, which has declined by half over the past 30 years and is internationally recognized as being in danger of extinction.

On Tuesday, SPNI appealed to hunters’ organizations not to target three species of endangered bird, even though the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which is responsible for distributing around 2,000 hunting permits each year, has not taken them off the list of permitted game.

They are the common quail, the European turtledove and a duck called the common pochard.

Two months ago, SPNI, together with the animals rights organizations Animals Now and Let the Animals Live, launched a campaign to ban hunting for sport and to increase fines for illegal hunting by amending the 1955 Wildlife Protection Law.

A hunter in the Hula Valley in northern Israel, September 2, 2020. (KKL-JNF Chief Birdwatcher, Yaron Cherka)

A statement from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which is responsible for distributing some 2,000 hunting licenses each year, said, “The request of the Society for the Protection of Nature [to ban hunting for sport] was received by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority only recently, and was forwarded to the relevant authorities.

“This type of change is not within the INPA’s authority and it requires a complex and lengthy legislative process, which could not be carried out within the short schedule. Therefore, no change has been made to the list [of wildlife permitted for hunting] so far.”

An SPNI spokesman said Wednesday, “The pictures break our hearts. We do not understand how they [the hunters] were allowed to hunt them this year.”

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