France reprimanded for continuing hunting practices

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France has ignored a letter of formal notice, sent by the European Commission in July of last year, calling on the French authorities to end illegal hunting of birds.The French government even doubled in May by issuing a decree that maintains controversial EU-wide techniques for hunting birds. Vivian Loonela, spokesperson for the European Commission on the environment, said that the infringement case was still ongoing.

The Greylag Goose is a popular career among French hunters (Geoff Snowball).

Controversial hunting techniques have been criticized by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), a French conservation NGO affiliated with BirdLife International. According to environmentalists, French law is illegal because it allows the hunting of threatened and declining species. It also allows hunting of migratory birds and maintains traditional practices, such as bird watching.

When it comes to bird hunting, France is an outlier from the EU, says Yves Verilhac, who represents BirdLife International in France. “Some 64 species can be hunted in France, unlike the Netherlands which only allows two. The EU average is 30 species, making France the most forgiving country for hunters, “he said.

But hunter organizations claim that their practices are strictly regulated. Thierry Coste, lobbyist representing the National Federation of Hunters (FNC), says that this tradition is limited to five departments in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region around Marseille and Nice.

According to Coste, only 30,000 birds are impacted by annual hunting practices strictly supervised by the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB). Environmentalists claim that these practices cause physical damage to passerines because of the products hunters use to take them off.

If France fails to convince the Commission, it could be brought before the European Court of Justice. In 2018, Malta was sentenced for the same reason.

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