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WWT welcomes French curlew decision reversal

Posted on 28 Aug 2019

WWT is welcoming the French government’s decision to ban the hunting of curlew this winter, following pressure from conservation groups including ourselves.

The curlew is declining rapidly across the UK. Its population has declined by almost two thirds in the last half-century to around 68,000 pairs – a quarter of the global population.

Small pockets of breeding curlews from the lowland south of England often overwinter in France. So their future is potentially threatened by whether French laws allow them to be hunted.

France had announced in late July that hunting would be allowed. For three weeks during August 2019 it was subsequently legal to shoot them there, until the government reversed its decision in the face of pressure from WWT and our conservation partners (read WWT’s full response to the French government's consultation).

WWT Director of Conservation, Dr James Robinson, says:

“WWT strongly welcomes yesterday’s decision by the Conseil d’État in France to reverse the ministerial decree signed on 31st July 2019 authorising a hunting quota of 6,000 curlews in France and instead prohibit any further hunting during 2019/20.

"The coordinated international response to the untenable position first adopted, that contravened obligations under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and the EU Birds Directive, has won a reprieve for threatened curlews this year.

“We look forward to full reporting from the French government of the scale of the hunting of curlews that took place between 3rd and 27th August 2019, the period during which hunting was permitted, and a strong commitment to constructive discussion with all stakeholders regarding future flyway-scale conservation of the curlew.”

WWT is working to bolster the UK curlew population, especially lowland curlew in the south of England. Find out more about our work.

The (Eurasian) curlew is one of six curlew species around the world, alongside long-billed curlew, Far Eastern curlew, little curlew, whimbrel and bristle-thighed curlew. Two more species – Eskimo and slender-billed curlew – have probably gone extinct already and WWT aims to stop the Eurasian curlew heading the same way.