France bans glue-trapping of songbirds after five-year court case

·2-min read

The tradition of hunting songbirds with glue traps, which bird protection groups have long deemed barbaric, is now illegal in France after the country's highest appeals court ruled that exemptions allowing the practice to continue breached European legislation.

France was the only country in the EU not to have banned the glue-hunting tradition which is popular with generations of hunters, mainly in the south of France.

Known as "chasse à la glu", it involves enticing thrushes and blackbirds onto branches covered in sticky material called birdlime.

The songbirds are then put in cages and used as “callers” to attract fellow wild birds with their melodic chants, providing hunters with easy pickings.

At the end of the season hunters says the birds are cleaned and released back into the wild.

But bird and animal protection groups say the technique leads to the capture of a much wider variety of birds that are often injured, their feathers damaged to a point where they can no longer fend for themselves.

In March, the EU Court of Justice said that using glue traps caused "irreparable harm" to the thrushes and blackbirds caught in this way.

France's State Council upheld that ruling on Monday.

"Neither the government nor the French hunters' federation have provided sufficient proof" that other birds than those targeted did not suffer from the practice, or that they were released without any physical harm, the Council announced in its ruling.

"Progress for bio-diversity," tweeted Environment Minister Barbara Pompili who has pushed to end the system of exemptions which allowed the practice to continue.

Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, head of the French bird protection league, expressed satisfaction after a five-year battle to put an end to the "practice from a bygone age".

"It's over, we're finally turning the page on this unbearably violent, non-selective hunting tradition and entering the 21st century, which I hope will be more respectful of the environment and all living things," he told RFI.

He acknowledged, however, there were still other "unacceptable" hunting practices which needed to be banned.

But Eric Camoin, president of the national association in favour of thrush hunting, said the decision was "a blow for rurality" and questioned the Council's neutrality. "It has given in to lobbying by the environment minister and enemies of hunting" he told France Bleu.

France was the last EU member state to still authorise the traps, allowing an annual quota of 42,000 birds, mainly in five regions in south-eastern France, though President Emmanuel Macron suspended the hunt last August pending the EU court ruling.

Two campaign groups, including the French bird protection league, had brought a case against the French environment ministry arguing that the practice amounted to animal cruelty.

Activists say that 150,000 birds die annually in France from non-selective hunting techniques like glue traps and nets at a time when Europe's bird population is declining.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting