Training Dogs With Grey Partridges In Italy And Croatia
Prizes are a strong motivation in competitions that aid conservation
The grey partridge is a game bird that benefitted so much from cereal farming that hundreds could be hunted daily on sporting estates. Dogs were used to find partridges for shooting, but the greatest skill was required in training them for falconry, for which dogs need to be especially obedient.
Although intensive farming has been bad for partridges, farmers can manage land to maintain partridges (and other plants and animals with similar needs) if reduced farm income is compensated. At Udine in Italy, the local community worked with landowners to organise three land zones to conserve partridges. In the zone with best habitats, partridges were preserved for training dogs to find but not catch any. In a middle zone the farmers were to be compensated by falconers, for whom one partridge caught is a major achievement, and the outermost zone was for shooting.
A pointing dog on trial at Zadar in Croatia
At Zadar, on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, even trials of hunting dogs produce enough income to secure the conservation of grey partridges. Dog owners from Italy, France and Spain pay professional dog trainers €90 per day to prepare their English and Continental pointing dog breeds for competitions. Trials run for up to 20 days, with a daily entry fee of €35 and more than 200 dogs each day, beyond which is a very considerable contribution to the local hotels and restaurants.