This is a victory for environmental associations: on Friday, October 21, the Council of State suspended authorizations for traditional lark hunting granted by the government.
The interim judge of the Council of State, seized by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) and One Voice, revealed that the decrees issued by the government on October 4 risked contravening European law on the protection of birds and that there was so “a serious doubt as to their legality”.
The texts authorized on the one hand the capture of the lark “using pairs of horizontal nets (“pantes”)” in Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, from 1uh October to November 20, with quotas of up to 56,672 birds in the Landes. Other texts authorized hunting using cage traps (“matoles”) in Landes and Lot-et-Garonne from 1uh October to November 20, again with quotas.
For the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), “the Council of State has inflicted yet another snub on Emmanuel Macron who persists in wanting to authorize these medieval practices and already deemed illegal under pressure from hunters”, she reacted on Twitter.
On the contrary, the National Federation of Hunters (FNC) protested in a press release against this suspension: “This ordinance once again highlights the inability of the Council of State to get rid of the lies of a “living room ecology” and to tackle the real causes of the decline in biodiversity. » The FNC claims to have “undertake important work to bring these hunts into compliance with recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and of the Council of State itself”.
Decision on the merits on October 24
“My dream would be for the Ministry of Ecological Transition to be concerned about birds that are disappearing rather than offering leisure to hunters”declared, for her part, to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the president of One Voice, Murielle Arnal, raised against the Minister Christophe Béchu who “had said that he would wait for the decision of our appeals last year to authorize or not these hunts”.
In October 2021, the decrees authorizing traditional hunts for larks and other birds (thrushes, blackbirds, lapwings, golden plovers) had already been suspended for similar reasons, via this emergency summary procedure. But the decision on the merits of these cases has not yet been rendered. The hearing is to be held Monday before the Council of State.
Without waiting, the government had resumed authorization decrees, only this time for the lark. “I assume the decision that has been made”declared Minister Béchu on Franceinfo on October 8, the day after the publication of the decrees, without specifying who the decision-maker was.
In their reactions, the associations had directly implicated Emmanuel Macron, accused of having wanted to give a gift to the hunters, while on Friday, the president of the FNC held “to thank the President of the Republic (…) for having had the courage to issue these decrees”.
The debate focuses on the European directive ” birds “ of 2009, which prohibits mass capture techniques without distinction of species. A deviation is possible “provided you are motivated and when “there is no other satisfactory solution” to capture certain birds”.
Or, “the Minister has not demonstrated that these traditional hunting methods will be the only ones allowing skylarks to be captured in these departments”a result that can be achieved “by shooting or breeding”, explains a press release from the Council of State. Moreover, the judge “points out that the methods thus authorized (…) cannot be successful as selective”since “at least 15 to 20% of other species of birds are indeed bought by matoles ».
“The Minister does not provide any figures for the “pantes”, whose nets can measure up to 50 m2with meshes that do not allow other birds to escape »notes the judge again, at the risk of “significant damage” on protected species.
“If the contested decisions highlight the objective of preserving a so-called “traditional” hunting method, this reason was considered by the CJEU as not being sufficient”finish the press release.