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.