France set for controversial reforms to hunting laws

The powerful hunting lobby in France is pushing for a controversial overhaul of the rules around the popular pastime and met with the president on Monday to discuss the changes that have not been well received by animal welfare groups.

France set for controversial reforms to hunting laws

President Emmanuel Macron has long planned to reform hunting in France, a pastime he sees as part of French rural culture and identity.

On Monday Macron and his ecology minister Nicolas Hulot met with the National Hunting Federation (Federation nationale de la chasse) to discuss future reforms which hunters say are needed to give life to a pastime that while still popular is losing participants.

Dates for when the official hunting season begins and ends as well as the legal quotas for animals which can be hunted will all be discussed.

The hunters want more members of the public to be able to obtain a license and say the procedure is too costly and too complicated.

They argue that the price of a national permit should be halved from around €447 to €200 and that there should just be one single permit to allow the license holder to hunt anywhere in France.

Currently hunters can apply for a departmental license for around €150 that only allows them to hunt in that department.

There are currently around 1.2 million hunters in France and around 37,000 new licenses are obtained each year, but according to hunters' organisations many people drop out of the process because of the administrative burden and the length of time it takes to obtain a permit – which can be up to nine months.

READ ALSO: 'It's like the wild west' – Tales of the hunting season in rural France.

'It's like the Wild West': Tales of life in rural France during the hunting season

Organisations also want a special rural police force set up, which would be in charge of policing hunting and farmers to be better compensated for damage to land and crops caused by wild animals such as boars.

But organisations also want hunters to become more involved in protecting the rural environment.

Hunters also want the rules on the animals they can kill to be more flexible and be dependent on the current state of the conservation of the species rather than be arbitrary.

The government already launched a consultation process on the setting of quotas for certain species of birds such as skylarks and blackbirds for the 2018 to 2019 season.

Hunting, called la chasse in French, regularly generates headlines for all the wrong reasons.

At the start of the season last autumn there were a series of fatal accidents involving hunters including incidents which saw a woman shot dead in her garden after a hunter fired through her hedge.

In another incident a grandfather killed his own grandson during a hunt in the Vendée, western France.

The case of a stag which was shot dead by hunters in the front garden of a village house also outraged the public.

Animal welfare groups have regularly called for bans on hunting on Sundays in France in a bid to prevent further tragedies.

But with European elections on the horizon Macron appears eager to appease a potential 1.2 million voters.

Five French words to learn

la chasse – Hunting/ The hunt

un chasseur – a hunter

un permis – licence / license

les défenseurs des animaux – animal rights activists

espèces – species







Member comments

  1. Let`s get this straight.
    Hunting, as defined in dictionaries, is a person stalking an animal and killing it cleanly, using his skills to avoid being detected by his prey.
    What passes for hunting now, with men and dogs driving the prey onto the guns, is slaughter with no skill attached to it.
    I have no problem with the first definition, but I despise the second and the people who practice it.

  2. Sounds like mandatory firearms training is needed to bring the French chasseurs up to the superb quality of weaponized French Resistance fighters during WW2. If the resistance had shot aimlessly like some of the chasseurs France might have been German territory now.

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France bans glue trapping of birds after EU court ruling

France's top administrative court said on Monday that glue hunting of birds would be prohibited, revoking exemptions granted by French authorities for a traditional practice that has long been denounced by animal rights campaigners.

France bans glue trapping of birds after EU court ruling
A demonstration of hunters to denounce the ban on glue hunting, in south-west France in 2020. Photo: RAYMOND ROIG / AFP.

The State Council’s move comes after the EU Court of Justice said in March that using so-called glue traps caused “irreparable harm” to the thrushes and blackbirds that are caught.

The birds are then used to lure others to the waiting hunters, who say they are later cleaned of the sticky material, called birdlime, and released. But critics say the technique invariably leads to the capture of a wide variety of birds that are often injured, including having their feathers damaged or torn off.

READ ALSO Chasse à la glu: Why French hunters are taking the streets

France was the last EU member to still authorise the traps with an annual quota of 42,000 birds, mainly in southern France, though President Emmanuel Macron suspended the hunt last August pending the EU court ruling.

Two campaign groups had brought a case against the French environment ministry arguing that the practice constituted animal cruelty.

Activists say that 150,000 birds die annually in France from non-selective hunting techniques such as glue traps and nets at a time when Europe’s bird population is in free-fall.