Voynet hunting law finally wins through

Much-contested plans to bring France into line with EU rules passed by narrow majority

French environment minister Dominique Voynet has expressed "intense satisfaction" following final approval last night of a law on hunting intended to tighten rules for shooting of wild birds and bring national legislation into line with EU law.

Ms Voynet's text follows the 1979 EU wild birds directive, which outlaws hunting of migratory birds during their breeding and migration periods. The current length of the national hunting season, at over seven months, was the subject of an infringement action launched by the European Commission in 1998 (ENDS Daily 3 December 1998). It will now run for six months, from early August to early February, according to species and dates set by local authorities.

The final version of the law was passed by a majority of just 14 votes in the lower parliamentary house, the national assembly. It stipulates that night hunting, which is currently banned, will be allowed in 21 French districts; Wednesdays, when many French children have a day off school, will be "no hunting" times, and landowners will be free to refuse hunting on their property. A national hunting body will be replaced by an office for hunting and wild animal conservation.

The new law has been the subject of fierce debate since its proposal in February (ENDS Daily 17 February). The upper parliamentary house, the senate, introduced dramatic amendments to Ms Voynet's draft last month (ENDS Daily 29 May), seeking to retain the previous length of the season and to overturn other key clauses in the law.

Follow Up:
French national assembly, tel: +33 1 40 63 60 00, and new law, part I and part II; {French environment ministry}, tel: +33 1 42 19 20 21.

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