PARIS — The hunting technique involves coating branches with glue to trap songbirds, which are caged to attract additional birds that can then be killed.
Activists have condemned it as cruel to the animals and harmful to the environment, and such practices have been banned in all European Union countries except France, which created a workaround to allow hunters to continue its use.
This week, France said that it, too, was temporarily banning the practice — a move that follows mounting pressure from conservationists, a complaint to the European Court of Justice, and a threat from the European Union’s executive body in July that the country faced legal action if the glue traps were not banned within three months.
Christophe Baticle, an anthropologist at the University of Picardy Jules Verne in northern France, described the move as “symbolic.” And the country’s environment minister, Barbara Pompili, called it “good news for the law and for biodiversity.”
The suspension, issued by President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, affects a minority of French hunters and applies only to the coming hunting season, pending a final decision from the European Court of Justice. And most people in the country disapprove of hunting, considering it cruel and outdated.
But the hunting lobby is a powerful political force in France. There are about 1.5 million registered hunters in the country, and they can form an influential voting bloc in rural areas. Mr. Macron has made efforts to attract their support since his election in 2017, including cutting the price of national hunting licenses in half, to 200 euros (about $240). About 5,000 hunters use glue traps to hunt birds, according to the French National Hunters’ Federation.
Willy Schraen, the head of the hunters’ federation, called the suspension “unacceptable.”
“Let’s leave people alone,” he said in a television interview on Thursday. “Why is this an issue to occupy Europe and our minister?” he added, referring to Ms. Pompili.
The hunting technique, known as glue-covered bird traps, is used to catch songbirds like thrushes and blackbirds. Conservationists say it not only is cruel to the trapped songbirds, but also threatens endangered species because the traps ensnare many kinds of birds.
The European Union moved to outlaw glue traps in a 1979 measure that prohibited “nonselective” hunting, but France then created a workaround by regulating how birds captured by mistake could be released.
France’s hunting lobby argues that the songbirds are released at the end of the hunting season, which runs from fall to spring, and that inadvertently trapped birds are detached from the glue as soon as possible.
The technique is allowed in five administrative areas in southeastern France, and last year the authorities allowed a quota of 42,000 birds to be trapped with glue. This year, that quota will be zero based on Thursday’s order.
The glue, known as birdlime, has long been used to trap birds. In the jungles of Indonesia, poachers catch millions every year to sell to collectors or compete in singing competitions. In Cyprus, millions of birds have been illegally trapped in recent years after being caught in the lime or in mist nets, according to the nongovernmental organization BirdLife Cyprus. The songbirds are sometimes sold for use in a dish called ambelopoulia, which Cyprus has outlawed.
In France, conservationists argue that the industrial glue often used in the traps is toxic for birds, and that the solvents used to detach the animals harm trees and the soil. Calls to ban the practice intensified in recent years after lawmakers raised the issue in Parliament and footage published by biodiversity organizations showed how birds suffer when they become trapped.
Conservationists welcomed the suspension this week, but they also urged Mr. Macron’s government to make the ban permanent and outlaw other indiscriminate hunting practices like trapping birds with nets.
“If you catch the wrong animal and you kill them,” said Mr. Baticle, the anthropologist, “then it’s a crime.”