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In the decade 1997-2006 the upper Adriatic coastal wetlands (Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia) hosted relevant wintering waterbird numbers: between 295,567 (1997) up to 517,596 (2005), with an overall trend of increase. In the year 2000 this area held almost one third of total wintering waterbirds throughout Italy. Several species (eg. Great White Egret, Common Teal, Wigeon, Curlew, Dunlin) were close to or above 50% of the national total. During the studied period most species increased or remained stable, albeit with annual fluctuations. Few species only decreased. Although a generally positive trend is evident, mainly due to reduced human disturbance, many problematic aspects remain. In the widely distributed privately owned “valli” (hunting/ fishing ponds in the lagoon), “disturbance” is generally calibrated and massive feeding performed, in order to optimize hunting bags. In such areas the management is addressed in favour of quarry species, with positive (or maybe negative) consequences on the other species. In public areas high levels of “disturbance” (shooting included) contributes keeping waterbirds below capacity.
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