Traditional bird hunting: the 2021-2022 authorisations are unlawful

Décision de justice
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After suspending them in an interim ruling last year, the Conseil d’État today found that the authorisations granted for the traditional hunting of several bird species (northern lapwings, European golden plovers, thrushes, blackbirds and Eurasian skylarks) for 2021-2022 are unlawful. Petitioned by the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO) and the organisation One Voice, in a substantive ruling the Conseil d’État found that the authorisations do not comply with European bird protection laws.

Today, the Conseil d’État annulled the ministerial authorisations granted for the 2021-2022 season for the hunting of northern lapwings, European golden plovers, thrushes and blackbirds using tenderies (nets secured to the ground or nooses depending on the species) in the Ardennes department and Eurasian skylarks using pantes (horizontal nets) and matoles (cages) in several departments in Aquitaine and Occitanie.

In an interim ruling, the Conseil d’État had suspended the application of these authorisations last year, based on serious doubts about their lawfulness1. After examining the merits of the case, today it gave a final ruling on the petitions brought before it.

The European Birds Directive of 30 November 2009 prohibits hunting techniques that capture large numbers of birds, with no differentiation of species, including in nets and traps. However, it provides for exemptions to be granted for such hunting techniques subject to the two following conditions: 1) that there is no other way to capture the species in question, 2) that the technique makes it possible to capture only that species, or if it captures other species, it only does so in very small quantities without causing injury.

The Conseil d’État observed that the ministry has failed to demonstrate that these traditional hunting methods are the only way to capture these bird species in the areas concerned, or that they only capture other birds in very small quantities. The Conseil d’État further observed that there are satisfactory alternative solutions, namely shooting or breeding.

On these grounds, the Conseil d’État annulled the authorisation orders issued on 12 October 2021 by the Ministry for the Environmental Transition, on the grounds of misuse of power.

In respect of the new authorisations for traditional hunting granted by the Government for 2022-2023, which were suspended in an interim ruling last month2, the Conseil d’État will rule on their merits and lawfulness in the coming months.


> Read the decisions Nos. 457516, 457579, Nos. 457517, 457583, Nos. 457518 and following, Nos. 457526 and following


1 Interim ruling Nos. 457535 and following of 25 October 2021
2 Interim ruling No. 468151 of 21 October 2022