By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
After more than 20 years of being prohibited, the hunting of blackbirds has been made legal in Portugal for at least the next three years, leading to environmental groups and individuals setting up a petition to try to stop the hunting before the season begins in November.
The Secretary of State for Forestry and Rural Development has published the hunting calendar for the next three consecutive seasons and in this, the dates that blackbirds can be hunted have been included.
Blackbirds can now be hunted between November and February, with hunters able to kill a maximum of 40 of the birds each day during this period, according to the legislation printed in the official government online newspaper, Diário da República.
A spokesman from the Portuguese bird protection organisation SPEA (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves) said: “This friendly and harmless bird that inhabits our fields, gardens and poetry has been declared legal to hunt. Is this illegal? No. Is this correct? No.”
“There are numerous reasons not to hunt the blackbird and SPEA understands that hunting is a natural resource, which managed in a sustainable manner can bring economic and social benefits at local and regional levels but this is an unnecessary measure by the secretary of state for forestry,” added the spokesman.
Les Devine, a resident living in Alcobaça, north of Lisbon, said: “I am fed up with the slaughter of animals in Portugal. I have been living in Portugal since the 1980s and have been ducking lead shot since I first moved here.”
He added: “This is the first time in more than 20 years that blackbirds have been included in the list of species that can be hunted and I simply can’t understand why they are on the list as they don’t do any damage and people don’t even eat them.”
An online petition, which has more than 5,000 signatures, has been set up to try and change the legislation and stop the hunting of blackbirds, which is supported by a Facebook page Diga NÃO à caça ao Melro (Say no to the hunting of the blackbird).
Analita Santos, the first person to sign the petition, said: “I love birds in general but I have a great love for the blackbird. We cannot allow this atrocity to go ahead.”
SPEA are now in the process of making a formal complaint about the hunting to the European Commission.
“We urge hunters and other citizens to come together and support us in opposing this unacceptable legislation,” said the spokesman for SPEA.