OPINION: ‘Hunting in France is outdated and must be banned’

After a British cyclist was shot dead in the French Alps by a hunter, the president of French anti-hunting group RAC tells The Local that now's the time for the government to stop cosying up to hunters and ban the activity outright.

OPINION: 'Hunting in France is outdated and must be banned'
Photo: Jean-François Monier, AFP
France's British community, but also all of those who enjoy mountain sports and in addition to that concerned nature lovers, were deeply shocked by the death of Marc Sutton, who was killed by a hunter in Montriond in the Haute-Savoie (a region in the Alps of eastern France).
Let's take this opportunity to look at how important hunting really is in France today. Currently, only a minority of French people hunt – roughly 1.5 percent of the population, and most people in France actually reject it.
An IPSOS poll ordered by OneVoice – just after France's former Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot resigned – clearly illustrates this: 84 percent of French people feel that hunting actually poses a danger to them; is cruel to animals and belongs to the past.
Fewer and fewer people in France hunt nowadays, in fact the number of hunters has been falling for decades. But the impact of hunting on animals – which already suffer from pollution and the deterioration of their habitats – is growing.
The fact that hunters want to promote their hobby and increase its appeal means that the public is more aware of hunting than it used to be. That's why the better-informed younger generations now reject this outdated activity.  
Many French people now know how cruel some hunts (such as foxhunting or hunts in which animals are pulled from their lairs) can be and are taking action to stop it.
More information is required to make people aware that hunting needn't exist, that it serves no purpose from an ecological point of view and that it is even detrimental for the balance of the ecosystem.
This is why calls to ban the practice altogether – which the RAC in particular is pushing for – or to ban it on Sundays, are gaining ground.
Photo: Jean-François Monier, AFP
Until now, politicians, who often lag behind people's aspirations for social change, have backed hunters for politically-motivated reasons and because of cronyism.
The hunting lobby, which is in the hot seat right now, is very influential all the way up the high echelons of power and will be even more so since the cabinet reshuffle this month.
Our leaders are locked in their ivory tower and stick to outdated visions without being aware of the changes society calls for or simply don't want to accept these changes.
One group of politicians has for a long time wielded a lot of influence and is closely associated with the hunting world because of certain religious beliefs (such as the president of the French Senate) or because it relies on the support of hunters in its constituencies. 
Over the years, measures taken by successive governments have gone in the same direction: increased pressure from hunting groups and special favours given to hunters. 
Groups which oppose hunting continue to fight their corner and the majority of the French population knows their struggle is legitimate. 
The Rassemblement pour une France sans Chasse (RAC) ('the Union for a France Free of Hunting') is a charity which is calling for hunting to be banned and has practical solutions that can be implemented after the ban is put in place to enable a harmonious and peaceful cohabitation with wild animals. 
Photo: Jean-François Monier, AFP

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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.