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French wildlife group creates nature reserves

A wildlife association is creating its own nature reserves, saying it has been forced to act because the government is not doing enough.

The latest acquisition by  Aspa (Association pour la protection des animaux sauvages) is a 130-hectare plot in the high hills of the Drôme, bought with €150,000 raised by members.

Hunting, fishing and cutting wood will be forbidden.

It joins five other reserves run by the association, which also has plans for a 490-hectare reserve in the Vercors foothills of the Alps.

Aspas manager Madline Rubin told Connexion: “When a national, regional or departmental park is created, all the sectors of activity in the region have to be consulted and they can block points they don’t like.

“This means that hunting and woodcutting, to give two examples, are almost always allowed.

“We want to create reserves where human interference is kept to a minimum and nature takes its course.”

She said fears that the reserves would become a tangled mass of brambles or other smothering vegetation were groundless.

“With no hunting, herbivores quickly arrive and keep spaces clear, while trees and other vegetation eventually find a way through the cover.”

The association distances itself from hunt saboteurs but openly opposes hunting.

“There is so much land open for hunting in France that even they can see the logic of having some places where wildlife is protected,” said Ms Rubin.

The association is now raising funds for its largest project, Vercors Vie Sauvage, and has signed an agreement for €2.35million to buy the site.

The property, situated away from zones of intensive agriculture, has a number of water sources, which make it ideal for watching wildlife.

With the paperwork signed, Aspas was able to buy a hunting concession which had existed over part of the land.

Large donors and crowd-funding through HelloAsso have raised €1.95million and it is aiming for €400,000 more.

The property includes farm buildings, which the association plans to convert into bedrooms to house up to 20 visitors to help with costs.

Donations can be made through HelloAsso or directly.

The crowdfunding site is and direct donations can be made at .

“We have built a reputation for our judicial backing,” said Ms Rubin.

“It is important to stay within the law but to make sure that the existing laws to protect animals are respected.

“We have launched 3,000 legal actions, almost all of which have been successful.”

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