Hunters have role in biodiversity
It is unfortunate Dr Blakemore wrote on hunting (July Connexion) with such limited knowledge; talking of fox hunting in the UK rather than all the types other than a hunt with dogs, etc, similar to ‘ la chasse’.
There are two main exceptions to this similarity – in the UK hunting game with packs of dogs (battue) is not allowed, and hunters do not need to undergo training.
In France, a hunter must take training and pass exams for a Permis de Chasser. It must be renewed each year and training and exams are in the remit of ONCFS, which also includes research and monitoring of wildlife (not simply game, as wrongly implied by Dr Blakemore) and policing hunters.
The ONCFS appreciates the interactions between all animal and plant species, not just game.
While not part of the French Agency for Biodiversity, ONCFS is an essential partner.
To claim “hunters are only experts on wildlife as pickpockets are experts on clothing” demonstrates that Dr Blakemore prefers simplistic prejudices to facts.
I have done formal training in the UK and ONCFS training in France.
A key difference was the ONCFS work covers a wide variety of wildlife and protected species, not just game.
Hunters here and in the UK treat wildlife with respect.
Saying hunting groups’ work in schools should recognise that hunters are only interested in wild animals to hunt them fails to recognise the need to control populations or we face destruction of the very biodiversity they seek to preserve.
Nigel Cogger, Lot
Dr Blakemore replies:
I accept that many hunters are knowledgeable and well-trained, but their principal object is to kill animals and it is the pretence that their interest and expertise in wildlife comes first that I object to.
I accept that hunting is part of French culture and a popular activity, but want steps to be taken at least to ensure that it is “discussed” in schools “as part of a balanced debate” about its rights and wrongs, and not misrepresented to children as a legitimate way of showing interest in wildlife