Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) shot down in Ebro Delta

Ebro Delta is a huge wetland in South Catalonia. It holds a wide variety of waterfowl all year round, including over 100.000 waterfowls in winter.

Despite Ebro Delta’s main lagoons and marshes are protected by a Natural Park and some Natural Reserves hunting is still allowed during winter time. Coot (Fulica atra) is one of the species to be hunted within the Ebro Delta Natural Park. Every winter a pack of over 30.000 is wintering within its fresh water lagoons and a 10% of this number of Coots is allowed to be hunted.

On past 2012 December 16, 500 Coots were hunted in l’Encanyissada, the main fresh water lagoon in Ebro Delta. But along with the Coots a Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) was also shot down. According with Ebro Delta’s Wildlife Rangers, ducks are few likely to be hunted along with Coots as they fastly flow off of the lagoon as soon as they see the small boats where hunters approach the massive flock of Coots. All Mallards, Teals, Gadwalls, Pintails, Shovelers and Pochards in the lagoon fastly disappear and only Coots (which absolutely dislike to fly) prefer to slowly swim until the flock is closed agaisnt an artifical small wall in the middle of the lagoon. This is the place where hunter wait for them.

Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) is a rare winter species (5-10 individuals per year) in Catalonia favouring big, calm bays and deltas along the coastline. There are really few records of birds in fresh water lagoons. The Scoter maybe was not scared of people as this species, nesting in North Scandinavia and Russia, has little contact with human beings. Or maybe was too tired to fly and preferred to don’t move until it was absolutely necessary. This second option could answer the question; why was this duck in a fresh water lagoon?

Ebro Delta’s Wildlife Rangers have opened an investigation, but other protected or endangered species will be dead as long as hunting is allowed inside this Important Bird Area.

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