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Deer will not be hunted near wildfire-stricken La Teste-de-Buch

Hundreds of deer were killed in the huge forest fires in July, which also required the evacuation of zoo animals

A photo of a young European deer in the countryside

Deer will not be hunted in the Teste-de-Buch forest area this year after hundreds of animals perished in the serious forest fires last month Pic: Vaclav Matous / Shutterstock

Deer will not be hunted in La Teste-de-Buch (Gironde) this year after two major fires destroyed 21,000 hectares and killed hundreds of animals in the department in July. 

The fires are still burning after weeks of firefighting, although they are now under control. A quarter of the deer population has reportedly been killed due to the blaze. 

It is estimated that between 140-180 deer died in the fire in La Teste-de-Buch forest alone, including many deer kids (baby deer).

Read more: France wildfires rage on: 20,000 hectares burnt, one arrest made 

As a result, the usual hunting season in the area has been called off. It is also not yet clear if next year’s season will go ahead.

Frédéric Mora, the president of the local hunting association, l’Association communale de chasse agréée d’Arcachon-La Teste-de-Buch (ACCA), who has lived in the area since childhood, said: “It upsets me to see it all destroyed like this. I am native to the area, and hunting is my ‘thing’. But this year, we will not hunt deer.”

The hunting period in the area is usually open from mid-September to the end of March. For the 2023-24 season, the hunting plan may still change depending on the situation and the state of the flora and fauna in the forest.

Mr Mora said: “The population of deer must regenerate. Studies will be done in the area to follow its regrowth.”

Although deer hunting will be banned, some hunting for wild boar will be allowed, especially as a means to deter them from entering semi-urban and urban spaces.

Read more: How to repel wild boars in France: try juniper wood oil 

The Gironde departmental federation of hunters has also confirmed to the ACCA that federal subscription fees will be waived when licences are renewed. 

This is a form of compensation due to the unprecedented situation.

Animals return to local zoo after hurried evacuation

The news comes as wild animals that were evacuated from the La Teste-de-Buch zoo as a result of the blaze have also been able to return home.

Read more: Trapped, injured or fleeing: the animals caught in France’s wildfires

More than 500 animals were evacuated, with return journeys beginning on July 26 and set to end by next week (the week of August 8).

They include red pandas, jaguars, an orangutan, and snow panthers. A total of 14 animals died as a result of the fire, but none have died in the return mission so far.

Elodie Trunet, a veterinarian at the Bassin d'Arcachon zoo, told Bordeaux: “The outward journey was tough because there we had to capture the animals on a hot day, plus there was a day of parking at Pessac zoo where the animals were all grouped together, before leaving on different vehicles.”

“For the return journey, we are paying attention to the departure and arrival times so that it is as easy as possible for the animals. Whereas with the evacuation, we had to do everything very quickly because we had no choice,” Ms Trunet said.

“This time, the captures are being done in a calmer way, and we have time to train the animals to enter the crates willingly.”

She said that the evacuation had been “exceptional and unparalleled” in France, and she thanked those from zoos across France who had come to the park’s aid. 

This was especially important as the animals are usually trained for weeks to be at ease in cages, but the evacuation was done urgently, and therefore did not allow for this.

Some of the animals were welcomed in zoos far away from Gironde, such as in Maubeuge (Nord), which is almost 1,000 kilometres away. 

The animals will now be medically examined for signs of stress, cared for and given lots of time to rest, to recover from the upheaval of the journeys.

Related articles

More people evacuated as south-west France wildfires rage on

Hunters use bows and arrows to cull boar in southwest France 

Is there a way to check if a hunt is taking place near me in France?

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