The petition was posted in September on the website of the upper house of France’s parliament following the death, aged 25, of Morgan Keane, who was shot while cutting wood in his garden, last December. It has now passed the 100,000-signature threshold within a six-month timeframe that triggers will trigger a review.
Keane’s death was not the only recent hunting incident. A motorist died in hospital after being hit in the neck by a hunter’s bullet while he was driving between Rennes and Nantes at the end of October.
A few days previously, a man suffered gunshot wounds to the chest while out walking with his mother in Haute-Savoie. In early November, a man was suffered serious facial injuries in a hunting incident near Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne.
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Last year, according to figures from the French Office of Biodiversity, 141 people were injured in hunting incidents and 11 people died.
Earlier this week, the upper house of Parliament announced in a press release its intention to examine “in depth” and “far from the emotion and pre-election agitation, the issue of hunting safety” through a “joint mission” involving the Economic Affairs and Law commissions.
“We fully share the pain of the families of the victims and everything must be done to avoid such tragedies,” one senator, Sophie Primas, said. “There is no point in throwing hatred on hunters [and hunting], we must study and put in place effective and proven solutions.”
The mission will consult with the group that organised the petition, hunting representatives and administrations “in order to lead to concrete proposals, possibly of legislative scope”.
It will also make a comparative study of the systems in several countries, while, ‘a first assessment of the 2019 reform on hunting safety should be drawn up’.
François-Noël Buffet, LR president of the Law Commission, said: “We must get out of the pro- or anti-hunting debate and get to the bottom of things.
“Hunting is a legal and popular activity in our country. It must be safe for non-hunters as well as hunters. The use of firearms obviously implies enhanced security.”
The recent incidents prompted EELV’s presidential candidate Yannick Jadot to propose a ban on hunting at weekends and during school holidays, while the group behind the petition that has prompted the Senate to act has called for hunt bans on Sundays and Wednesdays across the whole of France ‘without any possibility of exemption’.
Yannick Jadot, EELV presidential candidate, has formulated the wish to ban the practice during weekends and school vacations. This proposal is similar to that of the ‘One Day a Hunter” collective, which is seeking ‘the prohibition of hunting on Sunday and Wednesday, on the whole French territory and without any possibility of exemption’.
The group has also demanded safety rules be reinforced, to create, ‘real control and monitoring of weapons’ across France, as well as ‘systematic penal sanctions in response to any incident occurring during a hunting action’.
Hunters have come out against the Jadot’s plan. “You might as well ban hunting if you can no longer practice it on weekends or during school holidays,” president of the National Hunting Federation, Willy Schraen, told Le Figaro. “In the process, prohibit all dangerous activities such as motorcycles, which cause many more victims than hunting.”
“Out of more than 60 million shots per year, the French Biodiversity Office has recorded only 141 accidents. It’s always too much, but thanks to our efforts, we have succeeded in reducing the number of hunting accidents by four in 20 years. From now on, every 10 years, all license holders are retrained in safety rules.”