New calls for hunt ban after death toll grows

Animal cruelty campaigners are stepping up demands for a ban on hunting on Sundays after the deaths of five people already this season.

21 November 2018
By Connexion journalist

France is the only country in Europe not to have a hunt-free day each week. The UK, for example, has had one since 1831.

The deaths since the season opened in September include British off-road cyclist Marc Sutton in Haute-Savoie and a beater in Meuse eight days later – the same day another cyclist was hit in the shoulder and two surfers were peppered with pellets by a hunter onshore.

A 10-year-old girl has also been hit while enjoying a picnic with her parents in Limoges, a hunter in Cher shot his wife in the throat, and a window in a Bordeaux suburb was broken by a bullet fired 300m away.

Two days after Mr Sutton was killed, an Aude MP called for an off-road cycling ban during hunts but the Haute-Savoie hunt federation suspended nine hunters and banned hunting for the rest of the season.

Some communes elsewhere banned walkers in the forest, while others ordered them and mushroom pickers to wear hi-visibility clothing.

In Alsace, hunters gave out hi-visibility jackets but also asked members to use lead shot, not bullets.

Lead will not kill at more than 100m whereas bullets travel miles. Now 76 groups including Fondation Bardot, SPA, Aspas, Peta, L214, 30 Millions d’Amis and the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux have written an open letter denouncing hunt cruelty and provocations. A petition by Aspas has 204,000 signatures.

Aspas spokesman Marc Gir­aud said: “Less than 2% of the population hunt and the government speaks to them... but does not talk to anyone from the many millions who enjoy nature and want to protect it.

“Hunters are getting fewer and fewer but more and more powerful.”

Ecology minister François de Rugy met leaders of the Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs to demand better hunt safety and training but has failed to meet anti-hunt groups.

Each year there are 100-200 hunt-ing accidents with 10-20 deaths, although the hunting and wildlife agency ONCFS says the number of accidents has fallen, from 203 in 2013-14 to 113 last year.

At the same time, the number of hunters has also fallen, from 1.3 million in 2002 to a million today.

Willy Schraen, president of the Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs, told Connexion he will meet other nature-users to improve safety.

“We will look at putting up more signs to warn there is a hunt taking place. We would also hope other users would dress in hi-vis clothing – as hunters do – to avoid accidents.”

He reminded hunters “that communication and caution towards other users of nature must continue to be a golden rule of hunting”.

Meanwhile, a petition calling on sports store Decathlon to stop selling hunt equipment as it ‘is not a sport’ has been signed by 92,000 people.

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