French bird hunting plans risk ruffling feathers in Brussels

AFP - [email protected]
French bird hunting plans risk ruffling feathers in Brussels
France's Environment minister Christophe Bechu (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

France has authorised several traditional methods for hunting larks using cages or nets in the country's south-west, outraging nature conservationists who said the move would fall foul of European Union law.


Decrees published in the government's Journal Officiel allow for the capture of almost 57,000 larks in four south-western départements in October and November.

Capturing larks using spring-loaded nets is a method for "judicious use of birds in small numbers," one of the decrees read.

Another text allows for the use of cages propped up over piles of seeds, which fall onto the birds when they land and peck at the food.


Only a few thousand birds are allowed to be captured using this method.

"The government has chosen to re-offend by re-issuing orders it knows are illegal," the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO) said in a statement.

"As usual, it has published them the day before they apply, so thousands of birds can be killed" before legal action can block the decrees, the LPO added.

A 2009 European directive bans "all means, arrangements or methods used for the large-scale or non-selective capture or killing of birds".

It can only be suspended "where there is no other satisfactory solution" to a restrictive set of problems caused by birds, or for research and conservation and the "judicious use of birds in small numbers" invoked by Paris.

Last year the Conseil d'État, France's top administrative court, suspended similar government decrees over "serious doubts about their legality", but has yet to make a final decision on the traditional hunting methods.

Environment minister Christophe Bechu had promised in parliament last month to wait for the court's decision before issuing new hunting decrees.


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