The French military have been ordered to stop killing wild rabbits that live on the grass in the Esplanade des Invalides in Paris 7th arrondissement.
The site is of symbolic importance as it is directly in front of the national museum of French military history and houses Napoleon’s tomb.
Members of the military working on the site normally kill around 40 of the rabbits they share the space with each year, as they are considered pests by the prefecture.
To do so, the rabbits are driven out of their burrows by ferrets and then captured and euthanised.
On July 22, administrative courts in Paris ordered that the practice be suspended after animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis brought a case to trial.
During the trial, lawyers for the préfecture de police said that the rabbits cause €15,000 of damage over five kilometres of space each year, including furrowing the grass and piercing watering hoses.
This was contested by Christophe Najdovski, Paris’ deputy mayor for animal welfare, who said a “very low” level of damage was caused by the animals.
Hélène Thouy, lawyer for Paris Animaux Zoopolis, added: “[These figures] have come out of nowhere. The prefect has failed to provide any proof.”
The judge agreed and ruled in favour of the rabbits, suspending the prefectural decision to class them as pests and meaning they can no longer be killed.
However, the current ruling is only temporary. In the coming months a second hearing of the case will take place in order to make a more permanent decision.
The colony of rabbits is thought to be the second biggest in Paris after one in the Bois de Boulogne.
In a tweet, Paris Animaux Zoopolis said they had been fighting the prefecture’s decision to class rabbits as pests since 2018.
It said anyone aware of rabbits being trapped or killed in Paris, including in the Bois de Boulogne, should contact the organisation at: email@example.com