The results of the second year of adaptive harvest management: FACE report 2023

The hunting of Turtle Doves in the EU has been managed under an Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) programme since 2021. The European Commission launched this programme after the EU International Action Plan for the Turtle Dove, approved in 2018, prescribed the use of AHM to ensure sustainable hunting levels in the EU.

FACE now publishes its 3rd report on the implementation of the AHM programme in the EU, highlighting the latest findings and progress made by Member States and hunting organisations. The AHM is performed at flyway level and, since 2021, no hunting occurred in the Western flyway and a harvest reduction of around 70% in the Central/Eastern flyway was reported by Member States. Overall, the harvest reduction in the EU is around 85%.

Although declining, the Turtle Dove population is large, with a population size for both flyways estimated by PECBMS at 2.17 (±0.12) million breeding pairs in 2021. This results in a population of about 9 million Turtle Doves during the hunting season, i.e., after the breeding season. The population rate of decline is slow.

As for many other farmland birds, agricultural intensification is the key driver in population declines. Therefore, habitat restoration within agricultural landscapes is the key for Turtle Dove population recovery. The AHM programme also requires Member States to be active in habitat management and restoration as well as monitoring and research.

The evidence so far indicates that maintaining a low harvest is compatible with the goal of population recovery. In addition, this would ensure the continuation of strong and already long-standing commitments of hunters and hunting organisations in habitat management and other conservation actions benefiting the Turtle Dove.

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