France bans bird trap four decades after EU

France prohibits an archaic bird hunting technique four decades after the European Union ban. The country has suspended the use of glue traps, which conservationists say are especially cruel to animals and harmful the environment. The hunting technique involves coating branches with glue to trap songbirds, which are caged to attract prey birds that can then be killed.

Activists have condemned it as cruel to the animals and harmful to the environment, and such practices have been banned in all European Union countries except France, which created a workaround to allow hunters to continue to apply it bypassing the European ban.

This week, France said that it, too, was temporarily banning the practice — a move that follows mounting pressure from conservationists, a complaint to the European Court of Justice, and a threat from the European Union’s executive body in July that the country faced legal action if the glue traps were not banned within three months.

French environment minister, Barbara Pompili, described it “good news for the law and for biodiversity.” And Christophe Baticle, an anthropologist at the University of Picardy Jules Verne in northern France, named the move “symbolic.”

The suspension, issued by President Emmanuel Macron affects a minority of French hunters and applies only to the coming hunting season, pending a final decision from the European Court of Justice. And most people in the country disapprove of hunting, considering it cruel and outdated.

However the hunting lobby is a powerful political force in France. There are about 1.5 million registered hunters in the country, and they can form an influential voting bloc in rural areas. Mr. Macron has made efforts to attract their support since his election in 2017, including cutting the price of national hunting licenses in half, to 200 euros (about $240). About 5,000 hunters use glue traps to hunt birds, according to the French National Hunters’ Federation.

Willy Schraen, the head of the hunters’ federation, called the suspension “unacceptable.” “Let’s leave people alone,” he suggested in a television interview. “Why is this an issue to occupy Europe and our minister?” he questioned, referring to Ms. Pompili.

The hunting technique, known as glue-covered bird traps, is used to catch songbirds like thrushes and blackbirds. Conservationists explain that it not only is cruel to the trapped songbirds, but also threatens endangered species because the traps ensnare many kinds of birds.

The European Union moved to outlaw glue traps in a 1979 measure that prohibited “nonselective” hunting, but France influenced by hunting lobby then created a workaround by regulating how birds captured by mistake could be released.

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