French hunting boss tells people to walk ‘at home’ to avoid accidents

Willy Schraen also says walkers should wear high-vis jackets. He argues that ‘85% of the country is privately owned’ and that ‘nature does not belong to everyone’

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People in France who like to go out walking but are concerned about hunters have been advised to walk “at home” by the head of France’s national hunting federation.

Willy Schraen, the president of the Fédération nationale des chasseurs, told the LCP television channel that walkers: “can simply do it at home; they won’t have any problems,” during a debate on the controversial subject of hunting in France.

“Some 85% of the country is privately owned. Nature does not belong to everyone. And the people who claim that it is, guys like [Yannick] Jadot, guys like [Jean-Luc] Mélenchon [who say] ‘everything is open, go and have a walk around, nature belongs to everyone,’ it is not true, it is not real life.

“This story of sharing nature is a recent thing [...] We all knew the countryside [before …] there was private property and we respected it [...] and everything was fine. Now people are saying ‘this is mine and I will do what I like’.”

Mr Schraen also argued: “Those who are flexitarians, vegans, vegetarians, it would never occur to me to give them moral lessons to make them change their practices,” and asked for “the same tolerance” for him and his fellow hunters.

“Hunters struggle to defend themselves because they are not in this [mindset] of wanting to change things, but rather have to suffer” the criticism they receive, he added.

Mr Schraen said that this is the reflection of a society where “people want to resolve things through violence by saying ‘me, I’m not a hunter, I don’t want you to hunt, I do not eat meat, I don’t want you to eat it either, I don’t vote for Macron and I don’t want you to either’.”

“We are in [the midst of] a very violent radicalism.”

During the 2020/21 hunting season, 80 accidents – seven fatal – were reported in France, according to the ecological transition ministry.

In February, a 25-year-old hiker was killed by a stray bullet in Cantal.

Read more: Calls for hunt-free day in France multiply after hiker, 25, killed

Read more: ‘Our friend was killed by French hunter, stricter controls are vital’

“You can always get caught by a stray bullet, but if it helps, you have much more chance of being killed by a murderer in France than by a hunter.

“We have made efforts to improve safety that no one else has made: better than cars. We are even adding training every ten years for hunters. Every ten years, you will have to undergo this training and if you refuse you will no longer be able to hunt.

“There are now commissions which require all federations to take hunting licences from people who repeatedly display an attitude which could put them or others in danger, even if they do not cause an accident.

“40 children are run over on pavements every year; do they talk about it on BFMTV?

“I think we need to calm down, we have made a lot of effort and perhaps [people] need to use some common sense. If everyone put a high-vis jacket on when leaving their property [for a walk], it would be better.”

Mr Schraen also rejected the idea of banning hunting for one day of every weekend and during school holidays, which had been proposed by several candidates during this year’s presidential elections.

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