A COUPLE from Nantes fell foul of the law when, after an attic clear-out, they put some stuffed owls they used to collect for sale on a website.
A National Office for Hunting and Wildlife employee, posing as a buyer, came to the house to confiscate the birds and told the couple to expect to be prosecuted.
A 1976 law on bird protection forbids the sale of rare or endangered species, dead or alive. A 1979 EU bird directive applies similar regulations throughout the union.
Even if you accidentally kill or find a dead protected bird, you cannot transport it, let alone stuff it, sell it or even give it away. Harming swallows, martins, swifts, their nests and eggs is likewise illegal – as police themselves have found out.
In January, 120 swallows’ nests were destroyed at the police station in Saint Roch d’Avignon, prior to renovation. As a result, the regional branch of the bird protection league (LPO) is taking them to court for an offence that carries up to a €9,000 fine or six months in prison.
As the French legal saying has it: nul n’est censé ignorer la loi (ignorance of the law is no excuse) – and that applies to ones protecting birds.
If in doubt – check with your mairie.