More than a million hunting licences are held across France but this is half the number of 30 years ago.
One reason is young people’s addiction to their telephones, said Marc Giraud from the Association pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvages.
“Young people are detached from nature,” he added. “I live in the countryside and even there they just want to play with their phones. They find the idea of hunting lame.”
Younger people are also more likely to be concerned about animal welfare, he said.
François Darlot, president of anti-hunting organisation Rassemblement pour une France sans Chasse, agreed: “People nowadays are more aware that animals are sentient beings. Some young people are interested in learning to handle a gun, but many think that hunting is cruel.”
It means the average age of a hunter is now 55.
Claude Bussy from France’s national hunting federation agreed that the internet and consumer culture was playing a part in the downturn but added: “We are trying to attract young people to the world of nature and to the senses and emotions that hunting offers and our federation carries out campaigns for this.”
These campaigns include visits to French schools which have proved controversial.
Mr Darlot said another reason for the decline is the number of animals disappearing due to intensive farming affecting their habitat. “When I was growing up in a village near Lyon in the 1960s, intensive farming hadn’t yet started. We still had species that have now almost completely gone, such as partridges and hares.”
People may also have been scared off hunting by the high numbers of accidents. During the 2015/2016 hunting season, there were 146 accidents – ten of which were fatal.
Almost two thirds (61%) of French people do not feel safe in the countryside due to hunters, according to a 2016 survey by L’Institut Français de l’Opinon Publique.
In September, the first Sunday hunting ban in France was implemented after Gaël Levy, 43, was fatally shot by a hunter while out running near Semnoz, in Haute-Savoie.
Serge Bérenger from the Alpes Maritimes’ hunting federation said that accidents happened in all dangerous sport but added that some hunters were “not careful enough”.