11 Jun 2011

France told off for failing to protect hamsters

12:00 pm on 11 June 2011

The European Court of Justice is reprimanding France for not doing enough to care for its dwindling population of wild hamsters.

The court found that France has allowed unsuitable crop planting and unchecked urbanisation to destroy nearly 1000 hamster burrows in six years.

Wild European hamsters - which can live for four years and grow to more than 20 centimetres in length - are threatened with extinction in their small habitat in Alsace, eastern France.

Under the ruling, France must adjust its agriculture and urbanisation practices or face daily fines from the European Union.

There are an estimated 800 of the small black-bellied species, also known as the great hamster of Alsace, left in France.