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NEPA shortens bird-shooting season

Published:Tuesday | August 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has cut the annual bird-shooting season by one week as a result of the likely impact of the prolonged drought on the availability of feed for birds.

As a result, the season, which usually starts the third weekend in August, will instead get under way this Saturday and run until Sunday, September 20.

"Although we did a survey that showed we could have a full season, we are still taking a precautionary approach. Our research is still not foolproof. It's still just an assessment and a best guess, really, so we decided to apply a precautionary approach to this season," said Ricardo Miller, coordinator at NEPA.

This year's survey of the breeding pattern of the four birds hunted locally shows the baldpate/white-crowned pigeon (Columba leucocephala) and pea dove/Zenaida dove (Zenaida aurita) peaked in the last week of April towards the first week of May, which contributed to the shortened seasoned.




NEPA usually sets the starting time for the season at 16 weeks after the peak of the breeding season. This year, however, it anticipated that the birds might have experienced a feed shortage as a direct result of the drought, which might have slowed their development. This is because the baldpate sources food mainly from a variety of feeder trees and does not go to ground to feed at all.

Some hunters plant fields of corn and other crops, which provide additional sources of feed for the pea dove, long-tailed pea dove/mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), and white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica).

For this reason, if the overall output from feeder trees is affected by the drought, the baldpate will be affected, according to Yvette Strong, senior manager in the Conservation and Protection Division.

"During the season, approximately 90 per cent of the birds shot are actually birds that are bred during the present year's nesting season. Some 90 per cent of the birds shot range in age from two to four months," Strong told The Gleaner.