Hunters who receive state funding in France must report how it is used

Official auditors want transparency on the impact of millions of euros in grants for biodiversity and wildlife control

Since 2019, the state contributes €10million a year to funds dedicated to protecting biodiversity through projects from hunting federations
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Hunting federations are not sufficiently transparent about how they use public money, a new official report claims.

As well as representing hunters’ interests, the federations have a public service mission of overseeing the activity and of wildlife population control.

A 2019 reform expanded the scope of this mission, resulting in an extra €40million in annual state grants.

Not fulfilling legal obligations on reporting

France’s supreme audit institution the Cour des comptes concluded that “the state has not given itself the means to monitor the proper undertaking of these missions”, while the federations “are not sufficiently fulfilling their obligations to report [on their activity], as defined by law”.

Since 2019, the state contributes €10million a year to funds dedicated to protecting biodiversity through projects from hunting federations. Members contribute €5million per year.

These biodiversity funds have been criticised by environmental charities, which claim many of the projects have nothing to do with biodiversity and instead serve the interests of hunters.

The court wrote that, while the criteria are becoming stricter, “the lack of information in the applications makes any evaluation difficult”.

No measures to verify effectiveness

Another of the departmental federations’ missions is to compensate farmers whose crops have been damaged by boar or deer. Since 2017, this has cost them an average €72million per year, and in March the state decided to grant an additional €60million over three years towards efforts to reduce damage.

“This commitment was made without prior analysis of the financial situation of the federations [...] and without measures to verify the effectiveness of their actions to regulate big game,” the court said.

It also insisted that population management must be based on a deep understanding of wildlife, and that this knowledge is “insufficient” for some species.

Read more: New cull list of wildlife 'pests' upsets conservationists

Group set up after friend killed by hunter

The Cour des comptes undertook its investigation after the collective Un jour un chasseur, set up by friends of Morgan Keane who was shot and killed by a hunter in 2020, highlighted the issue via the court’s citizen participation platform.

The association’s co-founder Mila Sanchez told The Connexion: “We realised while researching how public money was being used that it was very difficult to find information online or in the press. The data is not transparent.

“There is no scientific proof showing that the way these funds are used is the most effective option.”

The association has accused President Macron of being too close to the hunting lobby, and called for an impartial evaluation of the best methods for dealing with increased damage to crops.

Read more: Franco-British man shot by hunter: anger over ‘lenient’ sentence

Hunters call for scrutiny of animal rights groups

The Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs has pledged to analyse the report’s recommendations.

Its president, Willy Schraen, said: “The quest for transparency, which is legitimate when it concerns the use of public money, cannot be limited only to the hunting community.”

He suggested similar questions should be asked of animal rights groups.

However, he said no anomalies had been found, which is rare in such investigations and a cause for self-congratulation.

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