France introduces new law to protect homeowners from hunters invading their gardens

Following the controversy surrounding the killing of a deer in a garden in Oise in 2017, measures have been taken to spare animals targeted by hunters in public places and to protect any innocent bystanders who might find themselves in the line of fire.

France introduces new law to protect homeowners from hunters invading their gardens
Photo: AFP

According to this new law published in the Journal officiel on Friday, an animal pursued by a hunting crew running to an inhabited or commercial area will now be “pardoned”.

The text explains that “the head of the hunting team or his deputy must immediately and by any means necessary ensure that the animal is not approached”.

It must also ensure the safety of people and property, but also facilitate the movement of the animal away from the inhabited area. If this is not possible, the authorities should be contacted. After assessing the situation, a veterinarian must then “at the crew's expense” anaesthetise the animal to move it or “proceed to kill it”.  

In the autumn of 2017, an episode in the northern French department of Oise caused a great stir, when hunters shot down a deer after it had taken refuge in a private garden.

Following this incident and the new offensive by NGOs and MPs against hunting, the National Hunters' Federation had committed itself to changing practices. This new law is the first step to ensure the public is better protected.

More than a million hunting licences are issued every year in France. The number of incidents is therefore relatively low. In total, there were 1,265 hunting accidents in France between 2009-2018, according to the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS), which publishes a detailed report each year on its website. Their number has remained stable overall over the decade, with around 120 to 150 per year most of the time.

There have been over 350 deaths due to hunting accidents since 2001. This an average of about 20 deaths per year, though this figure has started to decrease. Most of the victims are hunters, though there have been many tragic cases of innocent bystanders finding themselves in the line of fire.


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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.