As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

France reprimanded over controversial bird hunting practices


Paris has ignored a letter of formal notice sent by the European Commission in July last year, which calls on French authorities to stop illegal bird hunting.

The French government even doubled down in May by publishing a decree, which maintains controversial bird hunting techniques that are prohibited at EU level.

Vivian Loonela, EU Commission spokesperson on the environment, says the infringement case was still open.

“The Commission is aware of the publication of this new decree and will consider this new element in the follow up of the case,” she told EURACTIV in emailed comments.

“The Commission is requesting France to ban non-selective hunting practices, such as glue and nets, which are not in line with the requirements of this Birds Directive,” Loonela said.
While EU countries “may derogate from certain provisions of the directive,” they may only do so “under strict conditions that are not fulfilled in this case,” Loonela explained.

The controversial hunting techniques are decried by the Ligue de protections des oiseaux (LPO), a French conservation NGO affiliated to BirdLife International.

According to conservationists, the French law is illegal because it allows hunting bird species that are in bad conservation state. It also allows the hunting of migratory birds and maintains traditional hunting practices like birdliming, which are “not selective and harms species”.

When it comes to bird hunting, France is an EU outlier, says Yves Verilhac, who represents BirdLife International in France.

“64 species can be hunted in France, contrary to Netherlands which authorises only 2. The average in the EU is 30 species, making France the most lenient country towards hunters,” he claims.

The list of species authorised for hunting in France also includes migratory birds like the greylag goose, whose hunting is “illegal” because it prevent them from flying further North than France, says Verilhac.

In Brussels, the European Commission appeared to back this argument. Loonela said the EU executive “pays particular attention to the compliance of hunting practices in France because 20 of the 64 huntable species are not in favourable conservation status.”

The Commission has opened a new procedure “asking France to step up protection of the Turtle dove as hunting contributes to the decline of this species,” Loonela said.

For bird protection NGOs, the most controversial is undoubtedly traditional hunting techniques like birdliming and nets, which “are not selective” and harm protected species.


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