By Hana Namrouqa – Jul 05,2016
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature upgraded the turtle dove to vulnerable under its Red List of Threatened Species in 2015 (Photo courtesy of Royal Society for Conservation of Nature)

AMMAN — With the start of the hunting season for doves, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has urged hunters not to hunt turtle doves, a globally vulnerable species.

The hunting season of doves stretches this year from July 1 to November 30, according to the RSCN, which noted that hunting is only allowed in designated areas within the Jordan Valley.

Each hunter is allowed to hunt 20 birds on each trip, according to an RSCN statement, which said that hunting turtle doves is prohibited.

“The RSCN will not fine hunters who hunt turtle doves within the allowed number this year. The RSCN will raise the awareness of hunters who are found with turtle doves, but will fine them if they hunt turtle doves again,” the society said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgraded the turtle dove, a migratory bird widely sought after by hunters, to vulnerable under its Red List of Threatened Species in 2015.

The upgrade is due to a rapid decline in the population of turtle doves in much of its European range, with even more severe declines thought to have affected Russia and Central Asia, according to the IUCN Red List website.

The loss of foraging and nesting sites as well as disease and hunting along its migration routes are among the main factors causing the decline in the turtle dove population, according to the IUCN Red List, which evaluates the conservation status of plant and animal species globally.

The IUCN suggested several conservation actions for the bird species, including the management of its breeding and staging habitats and placing restrictions on hunting.

Turtle doves usually pass through Jordan in summer between July and September. They are mainly spotted in the Jordan Valley and adjacent areas, according to the RSCN.

The RSCN urged hunters to abide by its regulations to sustain hunting activities in the country and preserve wild birds and animals.

Under the society’s regulations, those who hunt outside the allotted period are fined JD100 and sentenced to one week in prison, while those who kill endangered species, such as falcons, are fined JD2,000 and handed four-month prison terms.

In addition, violators’ weapons are seized, according to the RSCN.

The location of hunting activities changes according to the season, with hunters mainly active in the Jordan Valley, mountainous areas and the Eastern Badia, according to the society.

In 1973, the government gave the RSCN, an independent nonprofit NGO, a mandate to regulate hunting and protect the Kingdom’s wildlife.

Over the past year, the society issued 2,874 hunting licences, according to its 2015 annual report.

According to the report, the society recorded 114 hunting violations during the year. Its patrols seized and confiscated 14 falcons, two hyenas, four foxes, one wolf and 137 pythons.