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How often do hunting accidents happen in France?

Two people were injured by stray bullets from hunters last week, as head of hunting federation says ‘zero risk’ hunting is not possible

Figures show an average of 20 people per year have been killed in hunting accidents since 2000 Pic: Stanislav Salamanov / Shutterstock

The president of the national hunting group la Fédération nationale des chasseurs has said “zero risk [hunting] does not exist” after two people were seriously injured by bullets shot by hunters last week.

Near Rennes, a 67-year-old man was hit by a ricocheting bullet while driving a car on a dual carriageway on October 30, and remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The hunter has been charged with causing "unintentional injuries while hunting".

In Haute-Savoie, a 29-year-old man was shot in the chest on October 28 while walking on a hiking path with his mother. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Speaking to Sud Radio yesterday (November 1) Willy Schraen said: “Obviously these dramatic incidents have come at a very bad time and close together and I apologise.

“There are very few accidents of this nature each year. They are very rare.”

He added that it was not possible to stop hunting accidents altogether. In an interview with BFMTV on October 29 he said: “I would absolutely like to get close to zero [accidents]… but we are humans and we all make mistakes.”

Green politicians have said this is grounds to ban or reduce hunting in France. Deputy Mayor in Paris, David Belliard tweeted: “There is a simple solution – no hunting, no deaths.”

Senator for Europe Ecologie – Les Verts (EELV), Guillaume Gontard, said: “Maybe this is the best argument for days with no hunting, and protection from armed human beings.”

On October 29, presidential candidate for EELV, Yannick Jadot, told BFMTV that hunting should be banned at the weekend and during school holidays, an idea Mr Schraen called “stupid”.

He said: “In the past 20 years [hunters] have reduced the number of deadly and non-deadly accidents by four.”

How often do hunting accidents happen in France?

Since 2000, there have been 3,325 hunting accidents in France, of which 421 were fatal, figures from l'Office français de la biodiversité and la Fédération nationale de la chasse show.

This is equivalent to 158 accidents per year, with 20 deaths.

Since 2000, the number of accidents has gone down 40% and the number of deaths 70%, figures from L’Office français de la biodiversité show.

In nine out of 10 of cases, it is hunters themselves who were the victims of accidents, and in 30% of cases, accidents were self-inflicted.

Most accidents occurred during big game hunts, such as for wild boar.

These figures do not include incidents that have caused injury or death to domestic animals, or instances where bullets have entered homes or cars.

There are currently strict rules for hunters, which aim to reduce accidents. 

These include a ban on bullets being fired at human-height or through bushes and hedges, towards roads, paths, residences, electric transport lines, and railway lines.

Guns must also be loaded and unloaded in a vehicle and can only be loaded before the hunter is about to shoot.

However, there are no laws around consuming alcohol during hunts, although if an accident does occur the hunter responsible may be asked to take a breathalyser test, and a positive result could be considered an aggravating factor.

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