Hunting subsidies rise to €6.3m in France as critics call for ban

Critics say the hunting lobby has had far ‘too many gifts’ in recent years and are calling for a temporary ban, but proponents say its organisation is ‘transparent’

A photo of a red sign in France saying “reserve de chasse”
Environmental campaigners are calling for a hunting moratorium and have criticised the level of subsidies paid to the sector in recent years
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Hunters in France have seen subsidies paid to the sport rise from €27,000 to €6.3million in less than five years, figures show, with critics saying that the hunting lobby has had “far too many gifts”.

Figures in the Journal Officiel, published on August 8, showed that the public aid paid to the Fédération nationale des chasseurs (FNC) had jumped from €27,000 in 2017 to €6.3million in 2021. The website then republished the findings.

In an article in Le Parisien, former green MP Matthieu Orphelin highlighted that the hunting group had also received additional ‘advantages’ since the election of President Emmanuel Macron in 2017.

He said that the cost of a hunting permit had halved from €400 to €200, which had attracted more new hunters and therefore more subsidies. The FNC’s revenue reached €28million in 2020 and 2021, Le Parisien said, compared to €11million on average in the years previous.

Mr Orphelin wrote: “They have had far too many gifts. The new government must rebalance things and stop saying yes to all of their demands, especially when it comes to traditional hunting.”

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In the FNC’s defence, its president Willy Schraen said that the organisation is “completely transparent and there is not one euro of public money that is not put to good use”.

He said that the jump in public funding was necessary due to a new hunting law, introduced in 2019, which demanded that local FNC groups “take over the management of approved communal hunting associations and the allocation of individual hunting plans”.

These tasks were previously carried out by local prefects, he said.

President Macron has often been seen as friendly to the hunting lobby, and has received much advice from Thierry Coste, a professional hunting lobbyist. In 2018, he said he was in particular favour of bringing back ‘presidential hunts’, as he sees them as an “attractive part” of French culture.

Read more: Macron wants to reinstate presidential hunting parties

In the same year, he authorised halving the cost of a hunting permit to €200. This in particular has been dubbed a “gift too far” by critics.

Hunting moratorium calls

The controversial claims come as some environmentalists are calling for a moratorium on hunting during the current period of wildfire risk and drought alerts. The wild boar season opened on August 15.

Green party Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV) and wild fauna campaigners have said that forests in France have already suffered intensely during the summer due to fires and drought, putting the survival of animals in doubt.

A wild fauna safety centre placed a petition online, which has amassed more than 52,000 signatures so far, calling for “an immediate moratorium on hunting”.

MP and national secretary of the EELV, Julien Bayou, supported the calls on Friday August 19.

The Centre Athénas, a wildlife rescue centre in Burgundy-Franche-Comté, said: “Drought everywhere, almost all small rivers and forest ponds have dried up, higher temperatures, repeated heatwaves, forest fires in departments where they had never occurred...

“Biodiversity as a whole is at an all-time low, and many species have suffered significant mortality or reproductive failures this summer.

"From August 15, the early opening of the wild boar hunt will send dogs, 4x4s, and men with guns into the wild to hunt down and kill animals and disturb all the wildlife that has already been hit so hard.

“We are calling for an immediate moratorium on hunting, and punishments for ’staunching’ in forests, a practice that destabilises natural environments for the sole purpose of producing profitable wild boar meat,” it continues.

“We cannot continue to accept this attitude of consistent denial, where whatever happens we treat the environment like a meat aisle in a supermarket.”

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