France reviews its hunting regulations
Across France, the woods and vineyards in winter are very quiet. In addition, that is, from the time of the sound of gunshots. The season for the chase (hunting) runs from September to February. Over the New Year, when there is less to do in the fields, many farmers and other locals pick up their guns and go hunting. sangliers (wild boar), hares or other game. For the unsuspecting rider, a view of full growth sanglier an escape. The number of accidents caused by hunting every year has caused an inevitable controversy about the use of the French countryside.
Game shooting in France is not an elite pastime for the most part. More than 1.1m people have hunting licences, making it the third most popular sport after football and fishing. For many of the locals it is at the same time a social opportunity together, a sport, a way to fill the fridge and a way to control pests. The French National Forestry Office estimates that half of public forests are overpopulated with boar, deer and other game. This can lead to the destruction of young trees and hinder forest regeneration. At around 2am, the number of wild boars in France has increased sixfold over the past 30 years. By uprooting berries and beech trees or trampling crops or vines, these long-haired animals alone cause about €30m ($32m) worth of damage to crops each year. Killing them, say forest managers, is part of biodiversity management. In 2021, 842,000 wild boars were legally shot in France.
But hunting also led to 90 accidental shootings in the 2021-22 season, and eight deaths. This was more than in the previous season, although it fell from 31 deaths 20 years ago. Most victims are hunters, but passers-by are also at risk. Last season 17% of accidents involved hunters shooting at footpaths, roads or houses. After the death of Morgan Keane in 2020, a young man shot while cutting wood near his house in the Lot area, a petition by his friends led to a Senate inquiry into hunting safety. Their report, published last September, made 30 recommendations, such as banning alcohol, which it blamed in 9% of the cases.
Despite France’s powerful hunting lobby, and a fringe political party that represents it, regulations have been tightened. A law passed in 2019 requires game shooters to wear a fluorescent orange jacket. In 2021 the highest court in France banned the use of glue traps to catch songbirds, in line with European practice. The government can go further now. Bérangère Couillard, the young minister in charge of the case, says there is no “taboo”. She will open more tips on January 9.
One option is to extend nationally a ban on hunting on Sundays in some public forests. Green politicians want to ban hunting at weekends, public holidays and school holidays too. Such comments disturb him cassariansmany of them also work during the week, and who accuse the residents of the city of not imposing their values on everyone else. ■