Printer-friendly version

The last bastion of bird trapping

France: Legalised nets, traps and limesticks

As all other EU members states France has transposed the EU bird protection guidelines into national law. This should mean that bird trapping is forbidden; but this is far from being the case. France is the only EU state that blatantly issues exemptions to the law to permit the wide scale use of all century old traditional bird trapping methods.

A tradition to be proud of? Since 2005 brutal stone crush traps are again allowed in France!A tradition to be proud of? Since 2005 brutal stone crush traps are again allowed in France!Whether horsehair snares in the Ardennes, net installations for waders in Champagne, stone crush traps in the Massif Central, lark trapping on the Atlantic coast or limesticks in Provence - almost all practices that bird trappers have had to renounce elsewhere in Europe are still in use in France. Thereby a benevolent French government seals the fate of some 1.5 million birds a year

The bird protection guidelines themselves contain the fatal loophole that permits France to allow this trapping arsenal to be used. If the trapping method is considered necessary on grounds of (socio-cultural) tradition, is selective and only small numbers of birds are affected, states may then apply a so-called derogation for the exceptional practice of trapping by this means. In France the exception has unfortunately become the rule and, on closer inspection, the necessary requirements are not met by any of the trapping methods used. In order to keep within the law the French Government lie like troopers to the European Commission. The annual trapping quotas are kept absurdly low (on paper) in order to meet the small numbers criterion and suitably accommodating expert reports are provided by institutes close to the hunting community to prove that the methods are selective. As far as traditional and necessary are concerned, the interpretation of these criteria is influenced by vote catching rather than facts.

These generous trapping permissions are not only bad for the birds affected. France’s example, as a heavyweight member of the EU, shows all other states how easy it is to circumvent the bird protection guidelines. Smaller and less influential states such as Malta and Cyprus are already asking why French trappers are permitted to use nets and limesticks and their trappers are not. France is risking an uncontrollable wildfire for birds in Europe - and to date Brussels looks on almost helplessly!