(CN) – The Court of Justice ruled that Republic of Malta violated European law by allowing spring hunting of quails and turtle doves from 2004 to 2007.
Europe’s high court found that the spring hunting, which occurred when the birds migrate back to their breeding grounds, violated the Wild Birds Directive.
The ruling noted that both species retain large populations, and are listed under the “least concern” category on the International Union for the Conservation Nature Red List.
However, the court also pointed out that spring hunting results in much higher mortality than autumn hunting. About 15,000 quails are killed each spring – three times more than in fall – while spring hunting takes out about eight times as many turtle doves, or about 32,000.
This does not provide adequate conservation for quails (Coturnix coturnix) and turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur), the court concluded.
It also ordered Malta to pay costs.