Hunters threaten ‘to strike’ and stop boar hunts in south-west France

They claim a reinstated ban on the use of nets and cages to catch birds is an attack on rural traditions

Hunting federations say their traditions are under attack

Hunters in the south-west of France say they are going on strike from June 1 and refusing to hunt wild boars in protest at a ban on the use of nets and cages to catch birds.

The strike was announced by the Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departmental hunting federations in response to the ruling by France’s supreme administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, banning the ‘traditional’ methods of bird hunting on May 6.

These methods, including the the use of nets (la pante) and cages (la matole), have been the subject of a bitter legal feud between animal rights charities, including the Ligue des Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) and the national and regional hunting federations, played out in the French and European courts.

The LPO initially secured a ban on these methods - along with the use of glue - for hunting birds in a ruling by the Conseil d’Etat in 2020. The methods are considered traditional in the south-west of France. 

This first ruling was overturned by a presidential decree in 2021 allowing each department to set the number of birds to be caught.

The LPO released a statement at the time accusing President Macron of “doing the opposite of what he ought to out of pure electoral demagoguery in the run up to the presidential election”.

Banned a second time

The ban was reestablished by a second ruling in the Conseil d’Etat on May 6, 2024.

The new ban, specific to the Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departments, notes that hunting with nets and cages is indiscriminate and can harm protected species.

The LPO issued a statement calling the new ban “excellent news”. 

However, the president of the national hunting federation Willy Schraen said the fight was far from over.

“The law is being used as a weapon of mass destruction against rural traditions,” he said. “Nothing can justify this methodical ban on our culture and our freedom, except for an ideology that wants to make us disappear.”

Mr Schraen is running for election to the European Parliament election under the (right wing) Alliance Rurale political party.

Read more: How to keep hunters out of your garden in France 

Hunters on strike

The Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departmental federations announced that they would not hunt wild boars for an unspecified time, in a de facto hunting strike.

Farmers and landowners in the area, who are the main victims of the damage caused by wild boars, have reacted to the strike with dismay. One told France 3 that he feels farmers are being “held hostage” by the hunters.

“It’s because we are in the electoral season,” said farmer Christophe Mesplède. “”Hunters always find reasons for these things, but in the meantime we are suffering from the damage. I think it is unwelcome”.

Read more: Why are there more boars in France in 2024 - and will it continue? 

The hunting season usually ends at the end of February, however due to the high number of wild boars and the devastation that they cause to farms, departmental prefects have extended hunting in some areas, particularly in the south-west.