France issues hunt ‘pardon’ for escaped wild animals

The new decree will apply to any animals that run into private gardens or inhabited areas during wild hunts

Wild animals in France that end up running into inhabited or built-up areas due to wild hunting will now be “pardoned” and allowed to go free, according to a new government decree.

The new law was published on March 1, in the most recent Journal Officiel.

It comes after controversy in late 2017, in the Oise (Hauts-de-France), in which a trapped stag was killed by wild hunters after it had escaped into a private garden.

This prompted national hunting group La Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs de France to address its practices, especially as several NGOs called for more rules on hunting in inhabited or built-up areas.

The new decree, which is likely to apply mainly to wild boar and stag, reads: “When the animal is desperate, or fenced in, and is located near houses adjacent to private gardens, to commercial or artisanal areas, offices, or establishments open to the public, [the animal] is to be ‘pardoned’”.

In practice, this will mean that the head of the hunting group will have a responsibility to “ensure that the animal is not approached”, and must enable it to escape far from the inhabited area.

If this is not possible, the decree continues, the group must contact the authorities and a veterinarian.

The latter may, if necessary, tranquilise the animal to allow it to be moved back to safety, “at the cost of the hunting group” or - in the worst case scenario - “begin the process of putting the animal to sleep”.

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