New bid to ban hunting in France on Sundays and within 3km of homes

Two associations start court bid to force the state to take action

A 2022 survey found that 80% of people in France favour a hunting ban on Sundays
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Two associations are starting legal action to ban hunting in France on Sundays and within 3km of homes.

ASPAS, a wildlife protection association, along with Un Jour Un Chasseur, a collective that supports victims of hunting accidents, hope to force the government to take action to restrict hunting on a national level.

The groups previously made a non-binding request for bans on Sunday hunting and within three kilometres of homes in October, however the government did not respond.

On February 10 the groups filed a lawsuit against the government for culpable negligence at the Paris Tribunal Administratif.

Previous article: French state faces legal action for not protecting people from hunters

There are currently 1.1 million active hunters in France according to the Fédération nationale des chasseurs, with a total of around five million having a hunting licence.

One of the major concerns of ASPAS and Un Jour Un Chasseur is that while certain types of bullet can travel up to three kilometres, hunts are permitted at a distance of only 150m from homes.

Hunters are also allowed to cross onto private land - without demanding prior explicit consent - in order to track a wounded animal.

A 2022 survey by IFOP* found that 80% of French people are in favour of a ban on hunting on Sundays.

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

However, the associations bringing the lawsuit say this does not go far enough.

‘Half of hunting deaths are on Sundays’

“Most hunting accidents happen on the weekend, and almost half on Sundays,” ASPAS member Richard Holding told The Connexion.

“We have been fighting to ban Sunday hunting for years now, and launched a petition to ban it under President Sarkozy, but progress has been slow,” he said

“This is the first time that associations have grouped together to take the issue to the courts, but unfortunately it is likely to be a slow process that could take several years”.

Hunting dates and regulations in France are largely fixed on a departmental level at present, and a national ban on Sunday hunting would represent a major change.

“There is a lack of coherence in the hunting rules,” said Mr Holding. “It’s as if the driving rules were set differently by each department. There needs to be a national rule.

“We just want the state to assume its responsibilities”.

No date has been set so far for the start of the legal action.

How common are hunting accidents?

Pic: Un Jour Un Chasseur / Google Maps

The trend in recent years suggests that hunting is becoming slightly safer:

  • In 2021-2022 there were 90 non-fatal accidents and eight deaths,
  • In 2020-2021 there were 83 non-fatal accidents and seven deaths,
  • In 2022-2023 there were 78 non-fatal accidents and six deaths.

The Office Francais de la Biodiversité will release its data on hunting accidents for the 2023-2024 season in August.

However, one in four hunting accidents concerned a non-hunter, according to ASPAS.

The Un Jour Un Chasseur collective points to another 2021 survey by IFOP** that found that 70% of people in France do not feel safe spending time outdoors during the hunting season.

The collective 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.

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

The Connexion has contacted the national federation of hunters, la Fédération nationale des chasseurs, for a statement and will report it when and if received.

Read more:

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

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

*Online survey of 1,000 people aged 18 and over conducted on December 13 - 14, 2022

**Online survey of 1,009 people aged over 18 and conducted on March 17 -18. 2021 for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation