Macron’s glue-hunting ban threatens France’s powerful lobby

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Macron’s glue-hunting ban threatens France’s powerful lobby

7 September 2020
News
French president, who once celebrated his birthday with hunters, has now sided with environmentalists.

It was an apparently throwaway decision by a president facing the resurgence of a pandemic, an unprecedented economic downturn and multiple international crises.

Yet by banning a centuries-old tradition known as glue hunting, Emmanuel Macron turned his back on a powerful lobby that was once his close ally — and challenged decades of French political tradition.

The French president last Thursday picked a side in the latest battle between environmentalists and hunters when he put an end to glue hunting. The method for capturing birds has been outlawed in Europe since 1979 but was still allowed for 5,000 French hunters, a long-lasting derogation that led the European Commission to threaten legal proceedings.

Hunters were quick to react: They warned Macron that his decision would be followed by legal and political action at the national and European level.

“The president is bound by European commitments ... but it will leave traces in the future between the hunters and Europe,” said the head of the national federation of hunters Willy Schraen, who added he would call for “a great European demonstration in front of the European Parliament" in the first quarter of 2021.

Hunting groups and environmentalists have long opposed each other in France, with the former's long-lasting influence being cited by ex-Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot as one of the reasons for leaving his post in a rare display of political candor in 2018.

For decades, hunters have been closely connected to the French political elite, and Macron is no exception.

he president, who's always had trouble convincing voters in rural areas to support him, surprised many in 2017 when he decided to celebrate his 40th birthday on the hunting grounds of Chambord Castle, southwest of Paris, where he was photographed alongside hunters.

There was more to it than a fancy birthday party.

The newly elected president sealed a deal that would later be called the “Chambord Pact,” committing to a raft of pro-hunting measures. In turn, the powerful hunting lobby reportedly helped him win local support during legislative elections. 

But an ongoing battle for influence between hunters and animal rights activists puts Macron in a tough spot.