Bid to ban hunting in France on Sundays branded ‘extremely shocking’

Since 2000, there have been 421 fatal hunting accidents in France, but the number of deaths each year is falling

A photo of a Réserve de Chasse sign on a field in France
A suggestion to ban hunting on Sundays has been roundly rejected by the head of the French hunting federation
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A bid to ban hunting in France on Sundays has been criticised and branded “extremely shocking”.

Willy Schraen, the head of France’s national hunting federation (FNC), was reacting to a draft law that Green MP Charles Fournier introduced this week.

Mr Fournier said he was proposing a “compromise” that would “not ban hunting” but leave “Sundays as a tranquil day…for walkers, and not against hunters”.

“This is not a proposal against hunters,” he said. “But the arguments we hear are only about defending hunters, and no arguments in favour of nature.”

Mr Fournier said that he had invited hunting representatives to meet with him on the issue but they had “chosen not to come” and claimed that they had declined his suggestion of a meeting.

‘Extremely shocking’ and ‘elitist’

But Mr Schraen has hit out at the suggestion.

In an interview with FranceInfo, he said: “Removing hunting on Sundays is [tantamount to] banning hunting altogether. It’s really becoming untenable with these people who want to regulate our lives, who want to take away our individual freedoms.”

He said that there are already forests that “are not hunted at the weekend”.

Mr Schraen continued: “Hunting is legal. Many people work during the week, so I don’t see how we could do it otherwise. Or maybe they want hunting to become something elitist.

“A part of the left-wing [in parliament] wants to stop workers [from hunting], who don’t have any other option but to hunt on Sundays. I find that extremely shocking.”

The FNC president said that he was in favour of compromises, such as the town of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, which banned hunting on Sunday afternoons after consulting with the local hunters’ federation.

Mr Schraen said that the issue of hunting was divisive in France because “you can’t talk to people who just want to ban everything”. He said: “We might as well say that we’re banning hunting, because in any case [banning it on Sundays means] a whole load of people won’t be able to go anymore.

Read more: Is there a way to check if a hunt is taking place near me in France?

How often do hunting accidents happen in France?

Figures from 2021 show that since 2000, there had been 3,325 hunting accidents in France, of which 421 were fatal, according to l'Office français de la biodiversité (OFB) and the FNC.

This works out as equivalent to 158 accidents per year, with 20 deaths. The OFB also says that since 2000, the number of accidents has gone down 40% and the number of deaths by 70%.

In 90% of accidents, hunters are the victims, and in 30% of cases, accidents are self-inflicted. Most accidents occur 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.

Hunters currently have to follow strict rules that aim to reduce accidents. These include a ban on bullets being fired at ‘human height’, through bushes and hedges, towards roads, paths, residences, electric transport lines, or 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, a spate of high-profile accidents in 2021 and 2022 sparked renewed, often bitter debates about hunting regulation.

These included the death of a 25-year-old hiker who was fatally shot while on a marked path, a 25-year-old man being killed while cutting wood in his own garden, and a driver killed after a bullet entered his car while he was driving on the motorway.

There were also incidents involving bullets hitting cars full of passengers, a British woman being accidentally killed by her hunting husband, and one where a bullet typically used for hunting boar entered the window of a countryside kitchen where a couple was sitting with their baby and child.

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