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France accused of turning blind eye to orlotan trappers.


 

France accused of turning blind eye to orlotan trappers

It has been described as the ultimate “barbaric pleasure” for gastronomes, to be eaten whole, bones and all after being drowned in Armagnac.

 

Ortolan bunting

France?s League for the Protection of Birds estimates that 50,000 ortolans are trapped and killed each year as they alight in France while migrating from Eastern Europe to North Africa Photo: ALAMY

It was the late French President François Mitterrand’s “last supper”, who hid his head under a napkin to eat it in the traditional manner.

But the tiny ortolan songbird could become a large peck in the neck for the French government if French bird lovers get their way.

France’s League for the Protection of Birds hopes to have French authorities pronounced guilty of flouting a European ban on hunting the endangered species.

After long ignoring an EU directive protecting the skinny, sparrow-like birds, France three years ago promised to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to poachers.

However the League says the government has this year tacitly agreed to turn a blind eye to orlatan trappers from August 20 to September 15. Last weekend, its president, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg freed 80 birds from traps in the Landes region of southwestern France, the seat of ortolan hunting tradition.

Henri Emmanuelli, the Socialist head of the regional council said he was no hunter but that “it’s a tradition for old people of the region”.

The League estimates that 50,000 ortolans are trapped and killed each year as they alight in France while migrating from Eastern Europe to North Africa. The prized birds can fetuch more than £120 each if sold illegally to restaurants.

www.telegraph.co.uk

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August 30, 2010 - Posted by | Animals, Food, nature, People

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