Population modelling has shown that numbers in western Europe could increase by up to 5% annually if hunting was stopped, although the main cause of the species’ long-term decline is agricultural intensification reducing food availability.
Most of the Spanish regional authorities have agreed a ban on hunting the bird as it crosses the country in 2021. An estimated 900,000 are shot each year.
Dr Andy Evans, head of global species recovery at the RSPB, said: “This is a really positive step from Spanish authorities because Spain is a key country on the migration route of the species.
“Hunting exacerbates the problems for these birds caused by agricultural changes, but both problems need to be tackled in order to save the turtle dove. By stopping hunting, turtle doves are given a better chance to recover.”