As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 1 July 2019

Ortolan Bunting being eaten to extinction


Illegal and unregulated hunting of Ortolan Buntings has been found to be unsustainable by an extensive pan-European study. Ortolan Bunting is a coveted French delicacy but, despite the banning of the practice, continued trapping and killing is pushing the species towards extirpation in the country.
Lead researcher Frédéric Jiguet, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation Sciences in Paris, was one of 30 people behind the study, which was undertaken at the request of France’s Minister of Ecology. The team used geolocators, stable hydrogen isotypes and population genetics to study the bunting, discovering that a third of birds migrating through south-west France come from the declining northern populations, concluding that French hunting is partly responsible for their dwindling numbers.
Modelling population dynamics through various possible scenarios showed that surviving migration through France would markedly reduce the birds' extinction risk, with the analysis confirming that current northern populations of Ortolan Buntings are directly threatened with extinction. French hunters in the south contest the hunting regulations – only formally applied in 1999, some 20 years after the species was listed as protected on the European Commission’s Birds Directive – claiming that what they catch is a small fragment of the bird’s wider population. 

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