Hunters use bows and arrows to cull boar in southwest France

The method is often used to hunt boar when the population is judged to be getting too large and dangerous for nearby homes, but the practice is controversial

A boar eating grass and crops in France
Wild boar populations have grown considerably in France in recent years, but their hunting is still considered controversial by some
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Specialised hunters using bows and arrows have taken part in a hunt to tackle a growing wild boar problem in southwest France, as the animals’ population expands and gets closer to human homes.

The hunt took place yesterday (Sunday, February 13) in Solférino, Landes (Nouvelle-Aquitaine).

This method of hunting was chosen because of the proximity of the forest to homes. Hunting with guns is normally forbidden within a certain distance of houses and roads, and using a bow and arrow is seen as safer for humans, as well as being less disruptive.

The hunt was organised by L'Association Communale de Chasse Agréée (ACCA) of Solférino. Around 40 specialised bow-and-arrow hunters from different departments took part.

The men and women wore fluorescent tabards, and hunted in specific and strategic areas of the forest. Some stayed on the ground and others climbed trees to get a better vantage point, and to be less visible and obvious to the animals.

The hunters are also trained in understanding how to trace and get closer to the animals quietly, and to shoot as effectively and quickly as possible.

The forest paths were closed to walkers from 8.30 to 14:00.

The hunt enabled the killing of several boars, to stop the population from becoming too large and risking damage to the surrounding area and local homes.

One resident told France 3 Aquitaine: “[The boars] don’t usually show up during the day. Most of the time they come out at night, and you only see the damage they’ve done once you wake up.”

He said that his septic tank had been damaged by boar, and that he was in favour of the occasional specialised hunt to keep the population under control.

He said: “Luckily we have never had an accident in the area, whether due to a gun or a bow and arrow. It’s reassuring.”

Wild boar debates

Wild boar are often considered to be a growing problem in France, and their numbers have reached around two million nationwide in the past five years.

They are mainly found in the Occitanie region, especially in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Gers and Gard departments. Their population soared during the lockdowns of 2020, when hunting was forbidden.

Read more: Wild boar numbers spike in France due to confinement

Locals often say it is important to keep the wild boar population down, as the animals can cause severe damage to agriculture and property, including wheat crops and other grains.

By law, hunting associations must compensate farmers whose crops are damaged by boar, and in 2019 alone, a total of €60 million was paid out in France as a result.

Yet, the use of bows and arrows to kill the animals has sparked debate in recent years, with hunting experts in favour of the move but local welfare groups speaking out and launching petitions against it.

Catherine Aubert, the founder of an animal rights group in Avignon told France Bleu in 2019 that: “The boar does not die straightaway, it can run kilometres with the arrow as it dies in agony.

“It is clearly less effective than using a gun, especially as hunters often do it at night, when it is harder to aim.”

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