France’s highest administrative court on Friday banned more traditional bird hunting techniques following the ban on glue hunting in June, in a decision hailed by environmental pressure groups but denounced by hunters.
Techniques banned in the new Council of State decision include popular practices in southwest France and the Ardennes region in the east of the country, such as hunting with nets or birdcages.
Its ruling revokes the exemptions granted by the government to allow the hunting of birds such as lapwing, golden plovers, larks, thrushes and blackbirds after a European directive of 2009 banning massive bird hunting whatever the species.
He said in his ruling that the government has failed to prove that such techniques are necessary and that “the mere idea of preserving so-called ‘traditional’ methods is not enough to authorize them.”
The previous ruling by the State Council in June came after the EU Court of Justice said in March that the use of glue traps caused “irreparable damage” to captured thrushes and blackbirds.
Hunting techniques “from another age”
Campaigners say 150,000 birds die each year in France from non-selective hunting techniques such as glue traps and nets at a time when Europe’s bird population is plummeting.
The League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), one of the groups behind the complaint, said it was time for the government to formally ban practices that “come from another age.”
“While biodiversity is collapsing and with it bird populations, France has had to be hit with the wall by the threat of an exemplary condemnation by the Court of Justice of the EU”, declared its president Allain Bougrain-Dubourg.
The other NGO behind the complaint, One Voice, said 100,000 birds a year were killed due to exemptions prohibited in the judgment, not counting birds killed accidentally. “It’s a huge victory for the birds,” he said.
The National Federation of Hunters of France, however, said the decision was “devoid of any serious basis” and pledged to explore all other legal avenues.
“For us, traditional hunts are the very essence of our passion for hunting and will always be at the heart of the defense of our hunting practices”, declared its president Willy Schraen.