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Bid to stop marmot hunting in France fails

Six environmental associations denounced the hunting as ‘scandalous’ but the court did not rule in their favour

A close up of a marmot eating carrots

A bid to stop marmot hunting in Savoie has failed, as the judge found that the species’ status was not threatened Pic: jan ptacek / Shutterstock

A bid to ban marmot hunting in Savoie, France has failed after the administrative court in Grenoble rejected the demand from six environmental associations to suspend the practice.

The court rejected the bid on October 24. 

The associations - Justice Animaux Savoie, ASPAS, Animal Cross, AVES, FNE Savoie, and One Voice - had requested the suspension on October 19. They had hoped to ban marmot hunting from September to November.

But Coline Robert, the associations’ lawyer, said: “The interim relief judge ruled that there was no urgent need to suspend (hunting), as the conservation status of the species did not justify such a suspension.”

Marmots are traditional symbols of the mountains and were typically hunted to be used for their fur or meat. Nowadays they are hunted for sport.

Marmot hunting is banned in Cantal and Pyrénées-Orientales, but not in Savoie or Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Lack of consensus over marmot status

There is currently disagreement over whether marmots are threatened. 

The animals are protected under the Bern Convention, which requires populations to be in ‘good condition’. However, this is not the same as being classified as a ‘protected species’.

A junior minister at the ministry for the ecological transition said: “Scientifically, there is no basis on which to ban marmot hunting. This species is not threatened.”

However, Marc Peronnard of France Nature Environnement said that there is currently no clear picture of the situation - nor the exact number of marmots in the Alps - due to a lack of population counts.

The animal welfare associations believe that marmots are in decline and are threatened by climate change and increased lack of snow in winter. In contrast, hunting associations say that their numbers are increasing.

President of the Savoie Hunting Federation, Régis Clapier, said that hunting was a traditional and cultural institution. However, most people in France are against it, surveys suggest. An IFOP poll in 2022 found that 69% of people in France oppose marmot hunting.

The six associations which brought the case recently denounced the hunting as “scandalous”, as the species is “protected and threatened by climate change”. 

Pauline Di Nicolantonio, president of Justice Animaux Savoie, said: “Today, marmots are no longer used for food, fat or fur. It is a form of hunting that is banned on the other side of the Alps, in Italy. 

“So on the one hand, this hunt is banned, and on the other, nearly 1,000 marmots are hunted [in France] every year.”

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