In response to requests from animal protection associations, calling for a ban on glue trap hunting, and by hunting federations, calling for the practice to be maintained, the Conseil d'État has ruled that this technique cannot be authorised in its current state. After referring the matter to the European Court of Justice, the Conseil d'État has revoked the French regulation authorising the hunting of thrushes and blackbirds with glue traps, since it is contrary to European law. Indeed, it could not be demonstrated that only small numbers of other birds are accidentally caught with this method, and with no serious consequences. Furthermore, the fact that glue trap hunting is considered a "traditional" method of hunting is not a sufficient reason to justify a derogation.
Glue trap hunting consists of coating tree branches with glue in order to capture (live) certain specific species birds of that land on the branches, which then serve to attract other birds. This "traditional" hunting technique is used in five départements in south-eastern France (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse and Var). Other birds caught by this technique are supposed be released.
The European Birds Directive of 30 November 2009 prohibits the use of large-scale or non-selective capture methods and mentions glue trap hunting among the practices that are in principle prohibited. However, the Directive states that a derogation may be granted, "if there is no other satisfactory solution" to capture certain birds in small quantities, "under strictly supervised conditions and on a selective basis".
After asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to clarify the interpretation to be given to the aforementioned provisions of the Birds Directive, the Conseil d’État has taken into account the Court's reply and has consequently, today, cancelled the ministerial orders establishing the maximum number of thrush and blackbird catches authorised using glue trap hunting in France. Through three rulings, it has responded to the requests from the One Voice association and the French League for the Protection of Birds, which called for a ban on this technique, as well as to that of the French National Federation of Hunters (FNC), which asked for the practice to be maintained.
The Conseil d’État notes that neither the Government nor the hunters' federation provided sufficient evidence to show that glue trap hunting resulted in the capture of only small quantities of birds of species other than those sought. It also notes that it is impossible to claim that any birds captured accidentally would only suffer negligible damage once released and cleaned, particularly as regards their plumage.
Moreover, the Conseil d’État underlines that, while traditional hunting methods may be authorised under the Birds Directive, the sole objective of preserving such traditions is not sufficient to justify a derogation from the ban in principle set down in the Directive. Finally, it notes that it has not been demonstrated that there is no other satisfactory solution possible to the practice of glue hunting.
September 2018 and September 2019: a Government Order authorises glue trap hunting for thrushes and blackbirds in five départements of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 hunting seasons.
November 2019: the case was referred to the Conseil d’État by the association One Voice and the French League for the Protection of Birds, which asked the ECJ to clarify the interpretation of the Birds Directive (see ruling).
August 2020: pending the response from the ECJ, the Government refuses to allow glue trap hunting for the 2020-2021 season.
September 2020: the French National Federation of Hunters asks the Conseil d’État to order the Government to re-authorise glue trap hunting.
17 March 2021: the ECJ replies to the Conseil d’État (see ruling).
28 June 2021: the Conseil d’État cancels the Orders for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 establishing the number of birds that can be captured and validates the Minister's refusal to authorise these captures in 2020-2021.