French state faces legal action for not protecting people from hunters

Two associations say that the ‘unprecedented’ case is calling for no-hunt days and claims that 70% of people in France ‘do not feel safe’ during hunting season

A view of a ‘Réserve de Chasse’ sign
The groups say that the government has not done enough to make hunting safer
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Two associations in France are set to take the state to court for not enforcing - they claim - safety rules around hunting.

The first is the wildlife group l’Association pour la protection des animaux sauvages (Aspas), and the second is the Un jour Un Chasseur collective, which campaigns to bring light to hunting accidents, “abusive behaviour” from hunters, and to prevent further tragedies.

The latter group was created by friends of Morgan Keane, who was fatally shot aged 25 by a hunter while chopping wood in his back garden in Calvignac, Lot, in 2020.

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The associations are calling for the government to limit the number of hunting days per week, more stringent training for hunters, and tightened hunting regulations in all departments

The group has referred to findings from a survey from December 2022, which found that 70% of people in France do not feel safe spending time outdoors during the hunting season.

One month after the survey results were published the government presented a plan to improve the safety of hunting, including making it explicitly illegal to hunt while drunk.

Read more: Drunk hunters face €1,500 fine under new French law

But the associations say that the plan did not go far enough. They first wrote a letter to the government stating their grievances and demands, and have now pledged to take the state to the administrative court in Paris if they fail to receive a satisfactory response.

The group launched the case today (October 10). If it does not receive a satisfactory response from the government by December 10 - it has said - the second stage will begin: bringing the action before the Paris Administrative Court, with a claim that the government is at fault.

‘Not anti-hunting’

One of the associations’ lawyers, Julien Roelens, said that the group’s aim was not “anti-hunting”, and was not aiming to provoke “an anti-hunting debate”.

He said that the group sent a letter this week to the presidents of national and departmental hunting federations in the hope of “including them in the discussion”. He said that the case was “unprecedented”.

The group is not the first to campaign for more stringent safety measures around hunting.

Calls for no-hunt days

In 2021, more than 122,000 people signed a petition from Un Jour Un Chasseur calling for two hunt-free days a week in France. At the time the group pointed out that hunting is already banned on Sundays in the UK and the Netherlands; as well as in several Spanish regions, German states, and Swiss cantons.

One of the group’s founders, Mila, said: “We are not asking to stop the hunt. Non-hunting days, plus stricter hunting licence rules, is a minimum to ask in the light of all the people who have died.”

The Fédération nationale des chasseurs has repeatedly said that hunters already do everything they can to lower the number of accidents, saying that over 20 years the number of deaths has decreased by 71%.

Its president, Willy Schraen, has said that the Federation welcomes efforts to improve safety for all countryside users, but opposes hunt-free days.

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