A singing male Turtle Dove. © Jonny Rankin

A singing male Turtle Dove. © Jonny Rankin

‘’Activism noun. The following of a policy of vigorous action in a cause.’ Seems to sum up Dove Step 2 quite nicely’. Darren Underwood, April 2015

Dove Step fellow and true gent Mr Darren Underwood made several supportive comments via Twitter during our endurance days on Dove Step 2. These comments and quotes were particularly well received when suffering on the walking leg.

Of Darren’s comments the above on Activism stuck with me. Dove Step is our reaction to the decline of Turtle Dove populations; our actions have to be vigorous as we are seeking to halt a vigorous decline. We know Dove Step alone will not cure all the issues affecting Turtle Doves, but the supporting of Operation Turtle Dove, is definitely the best way forward. Our funds, as kindly donated by you, support Operation Turtle Dove across its objectives. Last year we raised enough funds to install nine hectares of Turtle Dove habitat in the eastern region. This year, at the time of writing our 700 mile triathlon has raised £3 544.17 (£4 430.21 with Gift Aid) to support these objectives. Having liaised with Operation Turtle Dove, we will be announcing the activity that this year’s fundraising will go towards over the coming weeks.

The publication by the IUCN of The European Red List validates our efforts for Turtle Doves, previously considered to be of Least Concern. Turtle Doves are now deemed vulnerable and near threatened with extinction.

The reasons for the decline of European bird species, including Turtle Dove are identified as:

‘Biological resource use’, and ‘agriculture and aquaculture’ are Europe’s top threats to bird species, followed by ‘climate change and severe weather’, ‘pollution’, ‘invasive and other problematic species, genes and diseases’ and ‘natural system modifications’.

Turtle Doves are seemingly affected by all of the reasons for Europe wide declines:

‘… the proportion of threatened species in this assessment is comparable to that in the previous assessment a decade ago. Bird species continue to decline as a result of various threats, including illegal hunting, changing agricultural practices, invasive and alien species and habitat loss and degradation. It is evident that much more needs to be done to save threatened European bird species from extinction and to safeguard the bird populations of Europe.’

I am pleased that the Dove Step campaign and our most recent ‘700 mile triathlon’ stands as ‘activism’ to help address these issues.

Turtle Doves revised classification as ‘vulnerable and near threatened’ with extinction by the IUCN, poses a direct conflict with the EU management plan for Turtle Dove, which states:

The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur is listed on Annex II/2 of the EU Birds Directive as a species for which hunting is permitted in the following Member States: Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, and Portugal. The Turtle Dove is an important quarry species in these countries with 2-4 million birds shot annually.

I have a petition with the EU parliament, which I have tried for months to get live. It is not an easy process, the latest update as received today is:

Your petition will become available for support once it is adopted and found admissible by the Committee on Petitions. For any change in status you will be notified by e-mail.’

The submitted petition is entitled ‘Revise the EU Management Plan for the Turtle Dove’ and hopefully it will be adopted very soon allowing Dove Step supporters, who are EU residents, to sign in the near future. The revised Red List status is surely a precursor to updating the Management Plan and consequently the number of Turtle Dove allowed as quarry.

We are extremely positive in the Dove Step camp; we have now had time to reflect upon this year’s journey and will be sharing the experience via upcoming guest blogs, magazine features and talks. We will also be announcing the next Dove Step journey, Dove Step 3, within our Birdfair talk. If you are attending, do come and hear our plans at 09:30 in marquee 3 on the Saturday morning, 22nd August at Rutland Water.

Sir Robert Yaxley, veteran of both Dove Step journeys to date...

Sir Robert Yaxley, veteran of both Dove Step journeys to date…

Dove Step progress - so far...

Dove Step progress – so far…


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