Are reclamo hunting seasons for the Spanish red-legged partridge off the mark?

Authors

  • J. Mario Vargas,

    1. Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Les Augrès Manor, Trinity, Jersey JE3 5BP, UK
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  • Jesus Duarte,

    1. Biogea Consultores, Calle Navarro Ledesma 243, 29010 Málaga, Spain and Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain
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  • Miguel Angel Farfán,

    1. Biogea Consultores, Calle Navarro Ledesma 243, 29010 Málaga, Spain and Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain
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  • Rafael Villafuerte,

    1. Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005-Cuidad Real, Spain
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  • John E. Fa

    Corresponding author
    1. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Les Augrès Manor, Trinity, Jersey JE3 5BP, UK and ICCS, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK
    • Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Les Augrès Manor, Trinity, Jersey JE3 5BP, UK and ICCS, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK.
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  • Associate Editor: Christopher Williams

Abstract

The red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) is abundant in a number of regions in Spain and one of the most commonly hunted small game species in the country. Partridge hunting generates substantial income in rural areas where agriculture is less profitable. A traditional hunting method, reclamo hunting, is currently under revision by the European Commission's (EC) Birds Directive because hunting may fall within the reproduction period of the species. So far, only limited data on the reproductive phenology of the species exist to inform a policy change. In this study, we present reproduction data for red-legged partridges from 9 hunting estates in Andalusia during 1 year, and over 3 consecutive seasons from a control estate. We used direct nest and partridge chick covey observations to estimate 165 egg-laying dates. We found significant differences between sites related to altitude during reproduction periods. Using our pooled data, we showed that reproduction occurred between the last 10 days in January and the middle of February; beyond 31 January we observed an exponential increase in birds reproduction. According to these data and current EC legislation, reclamo hunting should not extend beyond 31 January. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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