France authorises the trapping of hundreds of thousands of birds
The French government has approved the legal trapping and hunting of more than 150,000 wild birds in France this season – a total higher than last year's permitted catches.
The figures, published on 5 September, legalise the use of various trapping methods, some of which are widely considered inhumane and invariably inflict pain and suffering on the trapped birds.
The approved licences include the use of gluesticks (or limesticks) to ensnare 42,500 thrushes in five departments of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and the employment of pantes (large horizontal nets) or matoles (small hanging cages) to catch an extraordinary 106,500 Eurasian Skylarks in the Landes, Gironde, Lot et Garonne and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departments. Aditionally, 5,800 thrushes, 1,200 Northern Lapwings and 30 European Golden Plovers may be capture by nets or snares in the Ardennes region.
Limesticks are a particularly cruel way in which to trap wild birds, and their use in France will ensnare more than just the permitted thrushes. This is a female Blackcap (Committee Against Bird Slaughter).
At a time when biodiversity is collapsing in the France countryside (for example, Eurasian Skylark has declined by 30 per cent across the country in 15 years), these decisions seem particularly appalling and confirm again the greater influence of hunters on French government policy than a large majority of French citizens, who had expressed their indignation during the public consultations held prior to the publication of the decrees.
Nonetheless, Minister of the Ecological and Solidary Transition, Élisabeth Borne, has approved the decrees and allowed mass hunting to go on. The news comes quickly after Bonne and her team approved the slaughter of 6,000 Eurasian Curlews (a decision that was reversed by the Council of State following an appeal from the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO)) and then OKed the hunting of 18,000 European Turtle Doves. LPO is presently launching an appeal against the latter decision and has described large-scale such ongoing hunting practices as "medieval, non-selective and cruel".
Remarkably, these developments come just weeks after the European Commission warned France for failing to meet its obligations to protect endangered species on 25 July, targeting in particular the country's undifferentiated trapping under the pretext of tradition.
Allain Bougrain Dubourg, President of the LPO, commented: "Emmanuel Macron keeps announcing a change. We have certainly seen changes in ecology ministers – three in two years – but we are still waiting for a change of policy in favour of biodiversity. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of birds continue to be stuck, strangled and imprisoned in France with the complicity of the state."