A 25-year-old woman has died after being shot by a hunting bullet while walking on a marked hiking path in Cantal, France. A 17-year-old woman, who was taking part in a hunt, is being questioned.
The hiker, Mélodie Cauffet from Aveyron, was killed on Saturday, February 19 in Cassaniouze (Cantal, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), during a hike with her partner. She was fatally injured at around 15:00 by a bullet shot during a wild boar hike, the prosecutor in Aurillac has confirmed.
Six firefighters and a SAMU team arrived in a helicopter to try to save the woman, but she could not be revived.
Initial gendarmerie reports suggest that the bullet was fired by a 17-year-old hunter from the neighbouring department of Aveyron.
In a state of shock, the hunter was taken to hospital in Aurillac, and tested negative for alcohol and drugs.
She is now being questioned in police custody on suspicion of manslaughter, and an investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy has been opened by the gendarmerie of Aurillac.
She is said to have been taking part in the hunt with her boyfriend, and had received some training in hunting and firearm use.
Biodiversity Minister Bérengère Abba has responded to the incident, calling it an “unbearable and unacceptable tragedy”. She added that “an investigation is underway, and decisions will be made, to make sure this never happens again”.
She offered her condolences to the deceased woman’s family and friends.
Aujourd’hui à #Cassaniouze (15) une jeune randonneuse est morte touchée par le tir accidentel d’une chasseuse. Drame insoutenable et inacceptable.— Berangere Abba (@b_abba) February 19, 2022
L’enquête est en cours, les décisions suivront, pour que plus jamais ça.
À sa famille et ses proches, mes plus sincères condoléances
President of hunting group la Fédération nationale des chasseurs, Willy Schraen, has also condemned the incident and sent condolences to the late woman’s loved ones.
He said: “Without waiting for the results of the investigation, I want to tell you that nothing can justify, even accidentally, the death of a person.
"I ask you to exclude from your hunts any person who does not behave in a perfectly safe manner when practising our passion…because our collective future depends on it.”
He announced that he would contact "all hunting federations” so that “each hunt organiser is reminded of all the safety rules that apply to all hunting activities".
Latest in series of hunting accidents and fatalities
The tragedy is the latest in a series of hunting accidents in recent months.
In December last year, an 82-year-old hunter was killed during a hunt, while a 67-year-old driver was killed by a bullet while he was driving close to a hunt less than two months earlier.
In early November 2021, a 47-year-old man was seriously injured after being shot in the face in a hunting accident in Occitanie.
Just before that, a 29-year-old man was in a critical condition in hospital after being accidentally shot in the chest during a private hunt in Hauts-de-France.
A few days earlier, in Indre-et-Loire, a vehicle belonging to a retired couple was shot while the pair were driving on a departmental road.
And in December 2020, a 25-year-old man, Morgan Keane, was killed by a stray hunting bullet while chopping wood in his own garden, leading six of his friends to campaign for a change to hunting laws.
He was also from Aveyron.
Read more: Brother of man shot in hunt rejects accidental death ruling
The spate of injuries and killings has sparked more debate in France, with Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili previously saying that she would be in favour of a hunting ban at the weekends, to reduce the risk of injury to countryside walkers.
Green presidential candidate Yannick Jadot has also said he would push for a ban on hunting during the weekend and school holidays.
Similarly, a petition on the dedicated Senate petition website calling for two hunt-free days a week reached more than 100,000 signatures in just a few days. As a result, the Senate is set to debate the topic this summer.
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