How do I report driver in France who ran over snake?

The official agency to report the driver to is the Office Française de la Biodiversité (OFB), which has a role as the environment police

16 August 2021

Grass snakes are harmless to people Pic: Cesar J. Pollo / Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland

Reader question: I saw a driver deliberately kill a western grass snake that was in the road by running over it, reversing and driving over it again. We took a photo of the car’s registration plate. Can such incidents be reported? 

Office Française de la Biodiversité has existed since January 2020, and is under the control of two ministries: environment and agriculture. When it was formed, it replaced two former agencies: Agence Français pour la Biodiversité, and Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS).

OFB is organised along departmental lines, and each office has its own email address, which can be used to send in details of cases.

The format for the email addresses is: sd[department number]@ofb.gouv.fr. So for the Dordogne, for example, the address is sd24@ofb.gouv.fr and Charente sd16@ofb.gouv.fr.

For a telephone contact, see ofb.gouv.fr.

It has a tab sur le terrain, which gives a list of regions. Clicking on the region you want to report an incident in takes you to a page, which on the left includes another link to contacts et implantations.

Clicking on that gives the addresses and telephone number of the regional headquarters.

Old ONCFS branches often shared premises with the departmental hunting organisations, so that is where you might find the OFB. You might struggle to speak to someone at the regional headquarters and have to leave a message on the answering machine.

It may also take some time for a decision on whether to prosecute to be made.

Western grass snakes (natrix helvetica), and indeed all snakes native to France, are protected species and killing them can incur up to a €150,000 fine and three years in prison. In France, they are called couleuvre à collier or couleuvre helvétique.

The OFB is the only force of its kind in Europe and to fulfil its environment police role, it has 1,700 environmental inspectors across France who monitor respect for the rules, raise awareness and carry out anti-poaching operations.

It also enforces laws against trafficking in endangered species and runs exams for hunting permits, as well as issuing them. It offers an expert opinion in significant planning applications, re the environmental impact of proposals.

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