The last bastion of bird-trapping
France and its legalised nets, traps and glue-sticks
As with all other member states of the European Union, France has transposed the EU Birds Directive into its national law. According to this, bird-trapping should be prohibited - but it is not! France is the only country in the EU that allows all traditional bird-trapping methods to take place on a large scale by means of a special derogation.
The trick with which France authorises the vast array of traps is via a loophole in the EU Birds Directive: If it is deemed necessary to catch birds for "traditional" purposes, the methods used are selective and only "small quantities" of birds are affected, the member states can allow the trapping to take place under a derogation. However, in France, the exception has unfortunately become the rule. To be legally on the safe side, the government in Paris bends the bars as much as possible. The annual catch quotas are kept low to meet the "small quantities". The selectivity of the trapping methods is documented by favourably appraised institutes close to the hunting associations. And on the question of what is "traditional" and what is "necessary", France's government is more likely to be guided by votes than by facts.
Our neighbour shows that it is possible to undermine EU nature conservation law with impunity - a dangerous game with fire, because in many other countries bird trappers are also demanding lavish exemptions.
With rulings on bird trapping, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the Supreme Court in Paris have rejected any derogations in France since 2021. Read more here.
Lapwing trapping with nets in Champagne
At the Aisne, a tributary of the Meuse in the northern French Champagne, highly endangered lapwings, golden and lapwing plovers are caught with nets.
Thrush trapping with horsehair snares in the Ardenne
In the northern French Ardennes there are half a million horsehair snares to catch thrushes in extensive moor forests - still legal today.
Skylark trapping with clap nets in Aquitanien
On the French Atlantic coast near Bordeaux, around 10,000 trapping sites with huge nets and cages block the skylarks' way south
Ortolan trapping at the foot of the Pyrenees
Ortolan bunting are caught illegally in Les Landes with trapping cages - gourmet diners pay a small fortune for a bird in the restaurant.
Stone-crush traps in the Central Massif
In the Massif Central, an ancient method of catching birds has survived for thousands of years: thousands of birds end up crushed under trapping stones each year.
Limesticks in Provence
With its mild climate, Provence is an important wintering area for many songbirds. The bird trappers await the feathered guests with hundreds of thousands of limesticks.