26.02.2018 change 26.02.2018

Naturalists appeal to the French to stop hunting rare birds such as the Eurasian curlew

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Nature organizations appealed to the French to stop hunting rare and protected species of birds, such as the Eurasian curlew - and to remove them from the list of game species. A letter to the French Minister of the Environment was signed by scientists and naturalists from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine.

The letter was signed by scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations: Institute of Nature Conservation PAS, Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS, Faculty of Biology of the University of Gdańsk, Greenmind Foundation, Water Bird Research Group "KULING", Wildlife Society "Stork", Naturalists' Club, Mazowiecko-Świętokrzyskie Ornithological Society, Polish Society for the Protection of Birds, Polish Society for the Protection of Nature "Salamandra", Society for Nature Research and Conservation, Nature Society "Dubelt", West Pomeranian Ornithological Society, Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds and Belarusian APB-BirdLife.

"We believe that hunting endangered species is unacceptable and can not be justified with tradition" - they wrote.

The letter was sent to the French Minister of the Environment and the EU Commissioner for the Environment, European scientists and representatives of bird protection organizations.

The letter's authors expect the French government to take measures to quickly stop the hunting of the Eurasian curlew and other rare and protected waders. They also want these species to be removed from the French list of game species.

In the information sent to PAP, President of the Wildlife Society "Stork" Dominik Krupiński emphasises that France is the only European country where the Eurasian curlew it still a game species.

The Eurasian curlew is a wader with a characteristic, long, curved bill. It nests in wet, open areas. In Poland it is threatened with extinction and protected. The Polish population of the curlew shrinks rapidly and reduces its range. In 2003, the estimated number of pairs was 650-700, currently - 200-300 pairs, which means an over 50% decrease within a decade - naturalists remind.

They add that the curlew, threatened with extinction on the scale of the entire continent, is on the European Red List of Birds. Over three-quarters of the world's population of the species nest in Europe. In many countries - including Poland and Germany - there is a negative population trend, especially pronounced on key breeding grounds of the species. Analyses indicate that in the last 15 years its numbers decreased by 26-34 percent in the entire range of the occurrence of the curlew. The main reason for the population decline is extremely low breeding success, which does not guarantee maintaining a stable population.

In Poland, attempts are being made to protect the Eurasian curlew. The Wildlife Society "Stork" implements a protection project (www.ochronakulika.pl) financed from EU funds. It consists of active protection of breeding sites in the most important curlew refuges in Poland, accounting for over 70 percent the national population of the species. As part of the project, young curlews from protected breeding sites are ringed and marked.

"Unfortunately, our efforts to rescue this endangered species are largely destroyed by hunting in France" - note the authors of the letter.

The authors of the letter refer to the report published in 2016 by the French Hunting Office. It shows that in the years 2013-2014 about 7,000 curlews were shot and killed in France. Curlew hunting season lasts from August 8 to January 20, the period when birds from Poland and Germany stay in their wintering grounds.

Naturalists believe that hunting curlews and other species of birds protected by the EU law is contrary to the coherent EU nature protection policy and violates the provisions of the Birds Directive. According to Article 7 of this document, hunting should not jeopardize actions taken to protect the species in the area of its occurrence.

"We have recently received another report on the shooting of a young Polish curlew, and we know from our colleagues that birds from Germany, where active protective measures are also being taken, are also shot in France. The scale of this problem is much larger than the direct numbers resulting from the reports concerning ringed birds would indicate, because not all kills are reported. In addition, only a small number of adult birds are ringed, so we do not know the scale of killing adult birds in France. We can assume that some of them are killed in French wintering grounds, just like juvenile birds, which has certainly contributed to the drastic drop in the population of this species in Poland over the last decades and probably still has a negative impact on the condition of the Polish population" - reads the letter.

Naturalists note that equally disturbing data concern other species of birds wintering in France, which are considered game animals there. This includes plovers, for example lapwings, of which we have lost as much as 70 percent in the last decade, and redshank, whose population has shrunk by 30 percent.

PAP - Science in Poland

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