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Rare bird loses its protection

NEW regulations intended to protect an endangered bird have make it easier to hunt, says animal charity Aspas.

The charity complained to the European Commission after, it says, “France gifted the last examples of grand tétras des Pyrénées to hunters”.

Found only in the Pyrenees and in Galicia in north-west Spain, the grand tétras is a sub-species of the western capercaillie. Numbers have fallen 70% since 1960 and Aspas president Pierre Athanaze said: “The situation is catastrophic.”

He said France promised to protect the birds and Aspas helped draft provisional regulations but the new National Strategy in Favour of the Grand Tétras allows hunting associations to decide the maximum number of birds to be killed per season.

Mr Athanaze said: “Hunting the bird will be even less regulated.” He added about 50 were shot each year under the present laws, with as many again being poached. They are dying out as they breed slowly and have a high infant mortality, he said.

The commission may transfer the complaint to the European Court of Justice. In June France was threatened with fines of up to €17 million by the court for failing to protect its last grands hamsters d’Alsace.

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