In the midst of the hunting season, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel on Wednesday issued a ban on hunting the common pigeon and common quail.
The ministry’s statement said the ban would come into effect next week after comments from the public were discussed.
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The hunting season, during which hunting quail and pigeons was allowed, opened on September 1. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and organizations for animal welfare Animals Now and Let the Animals Live have launched a campaign calling on the Nature and Parks Authority and the environmental protection minister to revoke recreational hunting in Israel. The main reason for the campaign was the extensive damage to the pigeon and quail populations.
The ministry said the Nature and Parks Authority had listed the common pigeon and common quail as species in danger of extinction, and therefore asked the minister to ban hunting them. It also said the minister decided to sign the ban on hunting these birds for a year.
According to the authority’s list of endangered species, 30 percent of the 213 species of nesting birds in Israel are at risk. In the period from 2002 to 2018, when the list was last updated, some 20 species had been added to those facing extinction.
A study conducted by the authority on the common quail found the species’ nesting congestion was low and its population was small.
Also, in view of the drastic, consistent reduction – 30 percent – in the common pigeon population in the last two decades, the scientists who conducted the study recommended banning hunting this species this year, to allow it to recover.
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Israel is obliged to preserve the biological diversity in its jurisdiction as part of international treaties.
The quail and pigeon populations’ dwindling has been caused by killing large numbers of these birds in other places as well. A few months ago Birdlife International, a global organization for conserving birds, reported wide-scale hunting of pigeons in Malta, Lebanon and Italy, where the common quail is also hunted.
A group of MKs headed by Miki Haimovitch (Kahol Lavan) submitted an amendment a few weeks ago, calling for an end to recreational hunting. The amendment would have the Nature and Parks Authority issue hunting permits only for goals like preserving balance in nature and preventing damage to agriculture and health hazards to human beings.
The Nature Protection Society commended Gamliel for her move “for nature, wildlife and all of us. Thanks to this decision we’ll see quail and pigeons in the coming years as well.”
The main hunters’ organization in Israel, Tzayadim Lema’an Hateva (Hunters for Nature) said in response that hunters would carry out any legal directive “even if they disagree with it and it hurts their interests. We’ll submit our objections regarding the accuracy and reliability of the studies the minister’s decision is based on.”