Huntable bird species under the Birds Directive: Periods of return to the rearing grounds and of reproduction

Under the Birds Directive huntable species should be hunted during their periods of reproduction or during their return to their breeding grounds. To provide clarity to Member States on these periods the so called “Key Concepts Document” gives guidance on Article 7(4) of the Birds Directive. The first version was published in September 2001 and updated in 2009 and 2014. This latest version updates the species accounts for 82 birds listed in Annex II of the Directive, with revised dates of migration and reproduction, but not the introductory text which sets out the principles and concepts.

The document aims at providing the latest available scientific information and provides an informative basis for the setting of hunting seasons timing per species (although it does not constitute a legally binding document). However, there remain limitations that need to be addressed.

Recognition is given to some inconsistencies and discrepancies between Member States in the timing of the periods for several species, such as the start of prenuptial migration of Teal and Woodcock in Italy compared to neighbouring countries. These were issues raised by FACE and the Italian Hunting Federation (FIDC) during the updating process, but could not be fully resolved. Potential future updates could address these issues by filling current knowledge gaps.

This represents the opportunity to report evidence based on relevant data collected through projects such as GPS species tagging.

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