President Emmanuel Macron of France has ordered hunters in his country to stop trapping song birds using glue- this has been an old tradition.
Despite the resistance, conservationists have welcomed the beginning of the end of what they see as a barbaric practice from a bygone era.
This old hunting tradition known as birdliming which has gradually been eradicated across Europe following the EU’s 1979 Birds Directive.
In five departments in the south east, around Marseille and Nice, some 5,000 to 6,000 hunters use glue-covered sticks to trap thrushes and blackbirds in a process they call chasse à la glu.
The songbirds are put in cages and used as “callers” to attract fellow wild birds with their melodic chants, thus providing hunters with easy pickings. At the end of the season the birds are, in theory, released back into the wild.
Last year French hunters were allowed to trap more than 40,000 songbirds in this way. But on Thursday Macron announced that the quota for this year’s shooting season, which begins on 1 September, would be zero.
“We’re flabbergasted,” Willy Schraen, head of the National Federation of Hunters (FNC), said in a statement.
“The president’s decision is incomprehensible in terms of the impact this practice has. It concerns only a handful of hunters.”
The Federation claimed around 30,000 thrushes and blackbirds were concerned by glue-trapping out of an estimated 700 million in Europe. In other words “just 0.001 percent”.
“Hunters cannot understand that this practice is being sacrificed in the name of a display of green politics. A whole swathe of French and rural culture is disappearing,” Schraen continued, insisting that “this traditional form of hunting has no impact on biodiversity and is selective”.
“Birds are plucked off the glue sticks, their feathers remain stuck and they’re thrown down on the ground,” he said. “Without their feathers they can’t survive. So it’s not true that birds are not killed.”
While he welcomed Macron’s announcement saying it would give these poor birds “a reprieve,” he insisted the decision “wasn’t made on moral grounds, but under pressure from Brussels”.