French Bird Hunters Attract Controversy for Glue Trap Usage

The practice is banned throughout much of Europe

Robins are among the species threatened by glue traps used by hunters.
Rhododendrites/Creative Commons

In a 2010 article for The New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen wrote about a method of trapping birds in Europe that he deemed particularly horrific. Some hunters, he wrote, use sticks covered with adhesive in order to trap birds. He decried the practice, including one description of a bird stuck to one that had broken its wing in an attempt to free itself.

Franzen’s article focused on Cyprus, Malta and Italy, but those aren’t the only European regions where hunters use this method on birds. A new article by Kim Willshire at The Guardian explores the practice’s continuation in France, despite being largely banned in the country. The EU banned this method of hunting in 1979, but some exceptions are permitted.

That’s how it’s been able to continue in France. “Since 1989, France has invoked these circumstances to permit glue-trapping in five south-east departments on the grounds that it is ‘traditional’,” Willshire writes.

Willshire’s article details the long-running attempts by activists to document the cruelties inherent in hunting with glue traps. A quote from Yves Verilhac, from the organization Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), gets into some specifics:

We’ve concrete evidence that sometimes the bird is struggling for 20–30 minutes. To remove them from the sticks, they spray them with petrol or acetone, which is toxic, and if it’s not a species they’re allowed to trap they often throw the bird away like a stone.

The article also details the conditions under which hunters are permitted to seek their quarry: hunting within a specific time frame and certain hours of the day, and a restriction to five species of birds. Anything else must be freed from glue sticks, and all kills must be documented and reported.

Willshire neatly documents the two sides of an argument, and two opposing forces that are inexorably opposed to one another. It’s a story with some discomfiting elements no matter where you stand on questions of hunting, laws and traditions. 

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