Local chasse in France refuses to extend deer hunting season
'The animals have suffered enough this year' local federation president Gilles Kaszuk tells Connexion, 'they need to be left in peace for now'
One local fédération de chasseurs has taken the unusual step of refusing to hunt even though the prefecture issued a decree extending the hunting period.
Hunters were told they could continue shooting red and fallow deer through the whole of February.
Federation president Gilles Kaszuk told The Connexion: “We usually stop hunting deer on February 1 in the Haut-Rhin.
“This year, with no consultation, we were told to continue, and that we could hunt at night using infra-red lights and shooting from our cars, which we consider barbaric and more suited to poachers than hunters.
“Every year, we are given quotas for the numbers of different animals we can shoot.
“This year, with difficult conditions, there are just a few areas where the quotas have not been fulfilled, but we do not think this is a good enough reason to hunt for longer than usual. The animals have suffered enough this year, with exceptionally high temperatures in the summer, more snow than usual, and floods, and we think they need to be left in peace for now.”
In a statement, the Préfet du Haut-Rhin says hunting is an activity that controls the game population and is indispensable to the preservation of agriculture, woodland and natural areas.
It says that, by January 22, only 69% of the quotas for red deer and 80.5% for fallow deer had been achieved.
Deer populations need to be controlled, farmers say. They hunt to prevent deer eating young shoots or destroying maize crops, and the hunters are liable to pay farmers for damage if they are not controlling the wild animals enough.
Exceptional circumstances allow the hunting season to be extended to allow quotas to be reached.
Mr Kaszuk plans to take the prefect to court over the decree and is planning a demonstration against the order.
“We are going to war over this. Every year, hunting groups hand over a total of €5.5million to communes for the right to hunt in the Haut-Rhin. I don’t think they will be happy to lose that income if fed-up hunters begin to leave.