Friends of a 25-year-old Franco-British man shot dead on land he owned next to his home when a hunter mistook him for a boar say it is wrong that the hunt organiser was not given a lifetime ban.
Julien Féral, 35, shot and killed Morgan Keane (who was born in France but whose father was British) in Lot in December 2020.
He was given a two-year suspended sentence and a lifetime hunting ban.
Laurent Lapergue, 51, who was directing the hunt, was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and had his hunting licence suspended for five years.
Mila Sanchez, a friend of Mr Keane who co-founded the collective Un jour un chasseur to campaign for stricter controls on hunting following his death, believes the two men should have received comparable punishments.
The Cahors trial highlighted failures to explain and enforce safety measures, she told The Connexion.
“The hunter who killed Morgan had only had his licence for six months. He was from another department so he didn’t necessarily know the area.
“He had previously fired four bullets towards a road. The director should have asked him straightaway to stop hunting.”
In January, the government revealed plans to increase safety, including banning hunting under the influence of alcohol from early this year, and listing local hunt days in town halls.
All 200,000 hunt organisers will receive training by 2025, reminding them of safety regulations and the importance of communicating with locals.
A mobile app is also due to be launched in the autumn, allowing people to identify when and where hunts are taking place.
“It feels like a bad joke,” Ms Sanchez said. “It’s putting the responsibility on walkers, even though bullets can travel over 3km, so we remain in danger even outside hunting zones.
“Morgan was killed while in his garden / own land. If an app had told him there was a hunt nearby, what could he have done?
'Shows contempt for hunting victims'
“It shows contempt for hunting victims. If you are killed, it’s your fault, you should have used the app.”
The Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs hunting federation welcomed the announcements.
“This app will be a great step for public information, as zones and days without hunting are already numerous, but nobody knows this,” it wrote.
A ban on hunting on Sundays, supported by Un jour un chasseur, as well as 78% of French people according to a recent Ifop survey, is absent from the plans.
The collective says 40% to 50% of hunting accidents happen on a Sunday, as this is when most people go out for a walk.
“If there are not even more accidents, it is because people have changed their behaviour, they don’t go out anymore.
“There are people who have lived through trauma, who were almost victims of accidents when a bullet came into their garden or their car,” Ms Sanchez said.
“It is difficult for some people to go for a walk in the forest without fear.
We believe the government needs to let those people have the possibility of a day when there is no risk.”
There were 90 hunting accidents during the 2021-22 season, according to the Office français de la biodiversité.
Eight people were killed, two of whom were not hunters.