French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered hunters in southern France to stop the controversial practice of trapping birds on glue-covered twigs.
The suspension follows a warning to France from the European Commission that it could face legal action at EU level if the practice continues.
France is unusual in Europe to still tolerate the glue method, used to catch thrushes and blackbirds.
The hunting method is limited to five regions around Marseille and Nice.
President Macron’s decision came when he and Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili met with French hunting lobby leader Willy Schraen at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday.
This is a suspension of the practice for this year, pending a legal opinion from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the matter.
Environmentalists say the glue method is non-selective and cruel, harming not only songbirds, but also other birds such as blackbirds and chickadees.
EU Birds Directive breached
In July, the European Commission – which enforces EU law – gave France three months to address its concerns, warning that failure to comply with the 2009 EU Birds Directive could mean a case before the CJEC.
The Commission’s warning states that France “has authorized several methods of catching birds, such as glue for thrushes, nets and traps for larks and pigeons, which are not selective and are prohibited by the directive.
“Member States can derogate from certain provisions of the Directive, but only under strict conditions which are not met in this case, in particular because most of the species caught are not in a good state of conservation. ”
The Commission claims that at least 32% of bird species in the EU are currently not in a good state of conservation and that in France, of the 64 species that can be hunted, only 20 are in good state of conservation. conservation.
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Yves Verilhac, BirdLife International representative in France, said: “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. ”
Thierry Coste of the National Federation of Hunters (FNC) told the Euractiv news site that hunters’ methods were already strictly regulated.
“Hunters capture thrushes for their bird songs,” he said. “They follow strict rules, such as specific times of the day, releasing other birds and cleaning them. “