France becomes latest EU country to ban hunters from sticking birds to trees

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France becomes latest EU country to ban hunters from sticking birds to trees


Considered by many to be unnecessarily cruel and harmful to the environment, the hunting technique of coating branches with glue to trap songbirds will soon end in France, the only European country where such practices were still permitted.

Image Credit: Flickr / Sue

It was not easy to convince the French government to take action against glue trapping. France only agreed to put an end to this practice following pressure from environmental defenders, a formal judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the threat of the executive body of the European Union. European Union to take legal action against the country. The suspension, issued by President Emmanuel Macron, will come into effect from the next hunting season.

Until recently, the French government had found a way to get around this problem by only authorizing the hunting technique in five departments in south-eastern France on the grounds that it was “controlled, selective and in limited quantity.” . Proponents of the hunting method have argued that the raping of birds on glue-covered twigs is a cultural tradition. But for the ECJ, that was not the case, ruling this week that the practice violated EU rules.

“This is wonderful news. From now on, France cannot use the pretext of an opt-out to allow the trapping of glue, declared Yves Verilhac, of the French League for the protection of birds (LPO), to the Guardian, celebrating the news. “The judgment is very interesting because it says that tradition is not an excuse for this and that it is absolutely not selective, which we knew and defended.”

The excitement was not shared by the hunters. In a television interview Thursday, Willy Schraen, the head of the Hunters’ Federation, called the suspension “unacceptable” and said hunters should be left alone by the government. “Why is it a problem to occupy Europe and our minister?” he added.

There are around 1.5 million registered hunters in France and they represent an important electoral block in rural areas. President Macron has made efforts to garner their support since his election in 2017, which is part of why France remained the only EU country not to ban the technique – used by 5,000 hunters in the country, according to the federation of hunters.

Glue-coated bird traps are used to catch songbirds such as thrushes (Turdidae) and blackbirds (Turdus merula). Environmentalists say the traps are cruel to trapped songbirds and threaten endangered species because they trap many types of birds. The EU banned glue traps in 1979, but France stuck around until it was known as the only country not to accept bloc’s rules.

French hunters kill around 17 million birds per year of 64 species, more than any other European country, according to the LPO. Among the bird species, 20 are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including the turtledove (Streptopelia turtur), the rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), the red wing (Turdus iliacus) and curlew (Numenius)

Industrial glue used in traps can be toxic to birds, while solvents used to loosen animals can damage trees and soil. It’s also needlessly cruel, as campaigns to ban the hunting technique have repeatedly shown over the years, disseminating images of birds suffering when trapped. Their next step will be to ask the government to ban other practices, such as trapping birds with nests.

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