Glue trap hunting of birds in France illegal, EU court rules

Environmental protection group welcomes European decision that paves the way for an outright ban of the controversial practice in France

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A long-running legal battle over 'Chasse à la glu' - a traditional French hunting method of catching birds by putting glue on branches - ended this week after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled the practice should be banned.

No EU country should allow hunting that could cause serious harm to "by-catch" (meaning to unintended animals), the court ruled on Wednesday.

The decision paves the way for an outright ban of the controversial hunting method which is currently suspended in France following an order in 2020 from President Emmanuel Macron.

The Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO) hailed the ruling as a victory step after a long legal battle and said it hoped 'other practices will be revisited'.

French hunters had defended the traditional hunting method as being used to catch songbirds only. They have long argued that glue trap or birdlime hunting is not intended to kill birds but to enable them to be gathered, cleaned, and sold as pets.

The ECJ ruling follows a 2019 decision by the Conseil d'Etat, that said fixed and seasonal quotas for bird hunting should be maintained. It has technically been banned in Europe since 2009, under EU law, and the Conseil asked the ECJ whether the form of hunting could still be allowed for certain species.

The practice was temporarily halted a year later, when President Macron announced a one-year ban. The ECJ's ruling extends that ban indefinitely.

"This judgment allows us to revisit other practices, especially in the southwest, where nets and wire traps are still used ... in the Massif-Central where birds are crushed with stones, in the Ardennes where they are strangled in snares," LPO president Allain Bougrain-Dubourg told Franceinfo.

"We cannot at the same time claim to be an exemplary country in terms of biodiversity - we will welcome the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its world congress in Marseille - and then, at the same time, to continue practices of this nature."

He described the ECJ's ruling as “very interesting”.

"It indicated that tradition is not an argument to exploit nature. There is something new, it recommends taking animal welfare requirements into account in activities like this."