France has been told to close a legal loophole that had allowed the hunting of birds using traditional methods such as glue and net traps.
The country’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d'État, ruled the use of glue illegal in June 2021.
But the ruling did not affect legal decrees dating from 1989 stating the French government could set limits on how many birds could be caught each year using the traditional chasse à la glu method.
“These framework decrees constitute the legal basis on which the ministry relied each year to authorise these practices and set ceilings for annual withdrawals,” said France’s bird protection association, the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO).
It is the latest development in a saga which has seen these traditional hunting methods continue despite being banned under European and French law.
Read more: Traditional skylark hunting re-authorised in France again
Matthieu Orphelin, director general of LPO, welcomed the ruling, calling it a “historic victory for biodiversity”.
Victoire HISTORIQUE pour @LPOFrance et la #biodiversité.— Matthieu ORPHELIN (@M_Orphelin) May 24, 2023
Le #ConseildEtat enterre DÉFINITIVEMENT les #chasses traditionnelles.
+ De 20 ans de travail acharné, bravo aux équipes et à nos avocats. Le droit et la science sont nos meilleurs alliés. pic.twitter.com/NAEfvqHjmP
“Over 20 years of tireless work, well done to the teams and our lawyers. The law and science are our best allies,” he added.
The ruling specifically annuls decrees regarding:
- the use of glue traps to capture thrushes and blackbirds in the French departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse
- The use of nets to catch lapwings and thrushes in Ardennes.
The government now has two months to respond to the ruling from the Conseil d'Etat.
France’s ministry for ecological transition told French news agency AFP that it “will naturally respond to this injunction from the Conseil d’Etat,” adding that technically these decrees “are already ineffective”.
Chasse à la glu was ruled illegal by the Conseil d’Etat in June 2021, but it did not apply to the 1989 rulings. The government pointed out that it has not published any decrees on how many birds may be caught by glue traps since 2020 and by net traps since 2022.
The LPO is still contesting other traditional hunting methods such as pantes (nets) and matoles (cages) to catch skylarks after the government passed a new decree on the subject last October.
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