France warned by EU court over rare hamsters
Author: Source: www.hamster-club.com
A top EU legal adviser has warned the French
government that it must do more to protect endangered hamsters living
near Strasbourg in eastern France.
France could be fined if the European Court of Justice rules
that it has failed to heed a final warning from the European Commission
Numbers of Great Hamsters
of Alsace are dwindling. The
Commission says only 298 burrows were found in 2010, down from 1,167 in
Farms and roads threaten their habitat.
The hamster's last remaining habitat in France is the Lower
Rhine department, near Strasbourg. Hamster numbers are calculated on the
basis of one hamster per burrow.
Threat of extinction
"If agro-environmental measures were put in place, in 2008, to
protect the Great Hamster [Cricetus cricetus
], they are incomplete at
this stage," EU Advocate General Juliane Kokott said on Thursday.
Her opinion on the case has been handed to the judges. In
most cases the judges accept the advocate general's opinions and the
court's rulings are binding on EU member states.
The Commission wins most infringement cases against states for alleged breaches of EU directives.
In 2008 the Commission called on France to do more to "combat
the agricultural practices and the urban sprawl that are destroying the
animal's natural habitat".
According to Ms Kokott, French conservation measures apply to only 60% of the areas inhabited by the Great Hamster.
She said the measures taken were insufficient to ensure the hamster's long-term survival.
France had failed to fulfil its obligations under the EU directive on conservation of naturabl habitats, she said.
Many farmers in the region have planted maize instead of the hamster's
favourite crop - alfalfa (lucerne), the French news website