European judges have ordered France to ban the hunting of songbirds with glue sticks, a practice described by activists as barbaric and a threat to endangered species.
French hunters argued that the method was a traditional and justified exemption from an EU ban introduced in 1979.
Until recently, the French government had successfully sought a opt out which allowed tail hunting in five departments in southeastern France on the grounds that it was “controlled, selective and in limited quantities.”
On Wednesday, the European court of justice ruled that the practice was not selective and contravened EU rules. The ECJ asked France to permanently ban the hunting of birds with glue.
French environmental groups welcomed the ruling: “This is wonderful news. Now France cannot use the pretext of an opt-out to allow glue traps to take place, ”said Yves Verilhac of the French Bird Protection League (LPO). “The trial is very interesting because it says that tradition is no excuse for this and that it is not selective at all, which is what we knew and argued.”
Hunters using the paint stick method called verguettes with glue and use caged songbirds to lure them into the traps. Once the birds land on the sticks, they stay stuck; the more they fight to escape, the more stuck they become.
The LPO had brought numerous legal cases in national and EU courts over the past 30 years, but all had previously failed.
The LPO claims that French hunters kill approximately 17 million birds of 64 species per year, more than any other European country. Of these bird species, many of which are migratory, 20 are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species in Europe, including the turtle dove, Partridge, Violet Thrush and Curlew. Approximately 1.4 million song thrushes and more than 2 million partridges die annually.
In 2019, glue hunters were allowed to catch 42,500 thrushes and blackbirds this year, half the previous year’s quota. The French government did not seek a derogation to allow the practice last year, infuriating France’s 6,000 licensed glue hunters who claim the hunting method dates back generations.
They reject accusations of cruelty saying that the stuck birds are quickly removed and released if they are not one of the species they can catch.
Two years ago, Eric Camoin, president of the Association for the Defense of Traditional Thrush Hunting, insisted that hunters filmed by the LPO breaking the rules were a minority.
“As in any activity, there are always those who do illegal things and must be punished. That’s clear to me. It does not mean that all activity should be prohibited. Doesn’t prohibit driving just because some people speed to 200 kph [124 mph]”He told the Observer.
Verilhac said the LPO had filed legal complaints with EU authorities about non-selective methods of catching birds in France, including the use of large nets laid between trees.
“After this sentence, we are confident of other successes. These cruel and outdated methods will start to fall like dominoes, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism