‘The fight goes on’: the struggle to save Europe’s songbirds | Birds

Chasse à la glu has ended, however the fight to save different birds isn’t over,” says campaigner Yves Verilhac. “We are actually battling to cease different merciless searching strategies that lead to the killing of skylarks, lapwings, golden plovers, thrushes and blackbirds.”

Two years in the past, Verilhac, of France’s Ligue pour la Safety des Oiseaux (LPO), was combating to cease the French custom of chasse à la glu searching songbirds with twigs and branches lined in adhesive.

La chasse à la glu had been banned in the EU by a 1979 bird directive, besides in particular circumstances the place it had to be “managed, selective and [done] in restricted portions”. Since 1989, France had invoked these circumstances to allow glue-trapping in 5 south-east departments on the grounds that it was conventional.

At this time, Verilhac and different campaigners are celebrating a uncommon victory. This yr, dealing with authorized motion initiated by the European Fee and attainable fines, the French authorities introduced glue-trap searching can be definitively banned.

The fight to save endangered chook species goes on, nonetheless.

“Of the 64 species of chook hunted in France, a minimum of 20 are on the hazard checklist,” says Verilhac. “We now have succeeded in suspending searching of solely three species: turtledoves, curlews and the black-tailed godwit.”

An ortolan trapped in a poacher’s cage discovered by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux in Tartas, south-west France.
An ortolan trapped in a poacher’s cage in Tartas, south-west France. Of the 64 species of chook hunted in the nation, a minimum of 20 are on the hazard checklist. {Photograph}: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty

The LPO says France continues to kill hundreds of thousands of birds yearly. A few of the “conventional” strategies used contain enormous nets, wire nooses that strangle the birds, or traps that crush the birds with stones. Because it did for many years with chasse à la glu, the French authorities has allowed exemptions from the EU directive.

Nevertheless, after a authorized problem by conservationists, the state council, France’s highest court docket, suspended these strategies quickly, regardless of protests by the nation’s highly effective searching foyer and an try by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to reinstate licences. The LPO desires a everlasting ban on these searching strategies and so, it seems, does Europe; Verilhac produced a letter from EU commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius advising the French authorities it’s on its final warning over this problem earlier than being hauled earlier than the European court docket of justice.

France isn’t the solely nation in Europe that sees hunters decimate chook populations. It’s estimated that between 11 million and 36 million birds are illegally killed or taken in Mediterranean international locations yearly, lots of them whereas migrating. Greater than 5 million birds are believed to be illegally hunted yearly in Italy; in October, Italian hunters had been present in Norway with 2,000 dead thrushes. Verilhac says French hunters are actually travelling to Morocco to hunt turtledoves, the place every hunter is allowed to kill 50 a day.

Hunters protest in Toulon.
A hunters’ protest in Toulon. Tens of millions of birds are killed in France yearly by ‘conventional’ strategies, utilizing nets, wire nooses or traps. {Photograph}: Laurent Coust/SOPA Photographs/Rex/Shutterstock

The battle over France’s love of searching, in all its types, is proving to be a key problem in the run-up to subsequent April’s presidential election. There are up to 1.2 million hunters in France who, together with their supporters and households, may make up a pool of 5 million voters.

Willy Schraen, president of the French Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs (nationwide hunters’ federation), has been doing the rounds of tv studios to clarify the “ardour” concerned in searching. Schraen readily admits he doesn’t hunt to management animal numbers – farmers continuously lament wild boar destroying their crops, for instance – however for pleasure. He has mentioned he wouldn’t flip down a ministerial job accountable for “rurality and agriculture”.

However after a spate of taking pictures accidents in recent times – about 20 individuals have been killed and dozens extra injured – a latest Ifop ballot revealed that 70% of these surveyed would a minimum of like to see searching banned at weekends and through college holidays. Latest accidents have concerned walkers, cyclists and drivers shot as they handed searching areas, although most deaths every season are amongst the hunters themselves.

“It’s scandalous {that a} candidate so pro-Europe as Macron has achieved every thing attainable to strive to get spherical the European birds directive,” Verilhac says. “They’ve been combating this to the finish. We now have received on glue trapping, however have wasted time and vitality combating this. We now have misplaced a yr and the numbers of species are falling.

“So the fight goes on.”

Discover extra age of extinction protection right here, and observe biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the newest information and options

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