Under-fire French hunters lay shaky claim to biodiversity role

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As the opening of the hunting season in France approaches this month, the country’s national hunting federation is up in arms over the banning this year of the practice of capturing songbirds with a gluey substance smeared on trees. It is is also displeased with pressure brought by the EU to limit the shooting of rare bird species. In response to increasing disapproval of the pastime, the federation claims that hunters provide a key conservationist role. ‘If there is anyone who can talk about ecology, biodiversity, climatology, it’s us,’ said its president this month. But official data tells a very different story.

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The hunting season is to open across most of France between September 13th and 20th, when the sound of shotgun blasts will resonate across the countryside as around 1.3 million permit-holders roam public and private land in search of a kill.