‘Hunter militia’ claim fake news, says gendarmerie
Gendarmes have defended the Chasseurs Vigilants project which has trained 161 hunters to help fight crime but has been denounced by animal and human rights charities as an “armed militia”.
Oise commander Colonel François Brémond said stories about armed brigades were “fake news” as the hunters will not be out in special groups but just asked to keep an eye out during normal activities
He told gendarmerie journal L’Essor that hunters can observe things that might seem suspicious but they have been told never to intervene.
“We teach them to preserve a crime scene and to touch nothing, so we can collect prints and DNA,” he said.
If they witness a situation needing urgent action, they simply call the usual public number, 17, but they can also pass on other concerns to local contacts, he said.
The row comes as the government is being accused by animal rights activists of favouring the hunting community, notably with the announcement that a national hunting permit is being slashed from €447 to €200.
The issue came to a head recently when then-ecology minister and celebrity environmentalist Nicolas Hulot resigned. He said the presence of Thierry Coste, a well-known lobbyist for the hunters, at an Elysée meeting about hunting was the last straw.
Commentators believe Mr Macron has an eye on next year’s EU elections, as the hunting community is said to number more than a million and is traditionally Eurosceptic.
Mr Coste, who advised Mr Macron on hunting policy during the presidential election campaign, told Connexion his recent moves were in line with the policies outlined during the campaign.
He said: “Unlike the last two presidents, Mr Macron has started, through his recent actions, to put into action the promises he made as a candidate.
“It is not surprising, when you look at the presidential vote in the rural areas.
“It was overwhelmingly in favour of Macron, to the astonishment of many. And I have no doubt that is due to the promises he made in favour of hunting and defending rural areas.”
Wild animal charity Aspas told Connexion that it is not very hopeful of being listened to about its long-running campaign to ban hunting on Sundays, which has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Its latest petition is at tinyurl.com/y75kehqz.
It considers hunting a danger to walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
Aspas can help people ban hunting on their land by designating it a “refuge” (see tinyurl.com/yd9w3783). It says it helps with administrative procedures which can be complex if you undertake them alone.