Pregnant Frenchwoman was killed by her own dog, not hunting hounds, says police source

A pregnant Frenchwoman who died while walking in the woods during a deer hunt was killed by her partner's dog and not the hunting hounds, a source close to the probe and a hunting club said Tuesday after DNA testing.

Pregnant Frenchwoman was killed by her own dog, not hunting hounds, says police source
The woman was walking in the woods when she was attacked. Illustration photo: AFP

Elisa Pilarski, 29, lost her life while out walking her partner's American Staffordshire terrier Curtis in Retz forest northeast of Paris in November 2019.


She was six months pregnant at the time. The mysterious circumstances of the case sparked huge interest in France and became a cause latched on to by pro- and anti-hunting advocates.

A post-mortem showed that Pilarski died of bleeding after several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs and the head.

Suspicion initially fell on the hunting hounds but DNA tests on 67 dogs incriminated her partner's dog Curtis instead, the local hunting club announced.

“The results of the DNA tests definitively confirm the innocence of the hounds,” the Rallye La Passion club said, adding that they showed Curtis to be the killer.

Another source close to the investigation, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the terrier's DNA was found on Pilarski's dog bites and added that her DNA was also found on his leash.

Just before the attack Pilarski had phoned her partner, Christophe Ellul, to tell him that she had come across threatening dogs and had difficulty keeping Curtis on his leash.

Ellul arrived on the scene around 45 minutes later to find her body in a ravine, next to Curtis and a pack of hounds.

Her clothes had been torn off.

Ellul accused the hounds over her death, allegations the hunting club vigorously denied.

DNA tests were carried out on 62 hounds and five dogs belonging to Pilarski and Ellul, including Curtis.

Pilarski's mother said her daughter had never been alone with Curtis before.

After her death, the terrier went on to bite a person at a dog pound.

Member comments

  1. So, is this the official verdict or based on the police’s veiw of the matter? I don’t know how inquests work in France.
    It all sounds suspicious, but what ever the circumstances it’s a trajic end to the young woman and her baby.

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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.