French court outlaws glue trap hunting of songbirds

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France was the only EU country that continued to allow ‘barbaric’ practice

A European robin trapped with glue on a stick, in France. A European robin trapped with glue on a stick, in France. Photograph: Courtesy LPOA European robin trapped with glue on a stick, in France. Photograph: Courtesy LPO

Staff and agencies in Paris

France’s highest administrative appeals court has ruled that the hunting of songbirds with glue traps is illegal, saying an exemption that had permitted the practice was in breach of European legislation.

For generations, hunters mainly in the south of France have caught songbirds by coating branches of trees with glue, often using the singing of other caged birds to lure birds to land. Birds are caught for sport or food.

European law has banned the practice since 1979 as cruel and a danger to threatened species. France was the only EU country that provided an exception to the ban, under a 1989 decree allowing glue trapping as long as it is “selective, controlled and in limited quantity”.

In a statement, the court said it had cancelled the French legislation that allowed glue hunting, after the European court of justice ruled the practice was not selective and contravened EU rules.

The EU court ruled that the birds captured, even if cleaned and released, can sustain irreparable harm.

France was the last EU member to continue allowing the traps with an annual quota of 42,000 birds, though President Emmanuel Macron suspended the hunt last August pending the EU court ruling.

Two campaign groups had brought a case against the French environment ministry, arguing that the “barbaric” practice constituted animal cruelty.

Activists say that 150,000 birds die annually in France from non-selective hunting techniques such as glue traps and nets at a time when Europe’s bird population is in freefall.

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