French Senate to examine hunting safety after petition garners 100,000 signatures

France’s Senate is to review hunting security, after noting "strong support" for a petition on its site calling for measures against "death, violence and abuse linked to hunting”.

A hunter in a hi-vis vest, with a gun over his shoulder, walks along a woodland path in Hirsingue, eastern France
A hunter searches for a kill in eastern France. The senate is to review safety practices of huntsmen after a number of high profile incidents. Photo: Sebastien Bozon / AFP

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.

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’.

READ ALSO The decades-old battle between French farmers and conservationists over bears

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.”

Member comments

  1. They will never ban it even for a day. I’ve been shooting for the past 70 years but never in my own country France. It’s far too dangerous with all the nitwits that participate in it. One only has to see them walking around in camouflage with unbroken shotguns to realise the intelligence of them👿

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OPINION: France has two presidents – one is confident, the other weak and directionless

France has two Emmanuel Macrons: one is strangely depressed and directionless, the other confident and clear, writes John Lichfield. But which one will emerge in his second term as president?

OPINION: France has two presidents - one is confident, the other weak and directionless

There is a global Emmanuel Macron, confident and clear; and then there is a domestic Emmanuel Macron, who sometimes appears petulant and indecisive.

Global Macron is admired by many people outside France for his eloquence and his intelligence. He is also mocked and feared by some people abroad (especially in the Brexit camp in Britain) for his alleged pretentiousness and arrogance (in other words for his eloquence and intelligence).

For Global Macron, it has been a good couple of weeks. 

His speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week was the best given by any world leader.

He placed the Ukraine war in a sweeping, global and historical context, lambasting allegedly “neutral” countries for failing to stand up for the core UN principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The “fake” non-aligned countries were, he said, betraying not just the values of the UN but their own interests.

Macron has also been word perfect in his tributes to the Queen.

He obtained little credit for that fact from the hardest-line,  professional Macron-haters in the UK media. They preferred to concentrate on the fact that he wore posh trainers during an informal visit last weekend to the enormous queues of people waiting to file past Her Majesty’s coffin in Westminster.

King Charles has, however, seized on this opportunity to improve relations between France and Britain which Liz Truss had ignored. After a dinner with Macron in London last Sunday, the new king is reliably reported to have decided that his first state visit next year should be to France.

So much for the global Macron.

The other Macron, the domestic president, is newly re-elected but strangely weak and directionless.

His popularity in opinion polls is fading. He seems unable to come to terms with his loss of his parliamentary majority in the legislative elections in June. He has yet to give a clear road-map for his second term to his newly renamed Renaissance party and their centrist allies.

(REMEMBER: You can listen to John Lichfield discuss the crisis on the French left and the mixed fortunes of Emmanuel Macron in the latest episode of our Talking France podcast below)

He has alternated in recent weeks between Blood, Sweat and Tears warnings to the French people that they face a cold and difficult winter and a generous (but reluctant) decision to extend domestic energy subsidies for another full year.

He has alarmed some of his own allies by raising the possibility that he might use his emergency constitutional powers to push pension reform through a divided National Assembly.

At the same time, he has pressed ahead with his vague plan for a grandiloquently-named Conseil national de la Refondation (National refoundation council). This body is supposed to find common ground between Left and Right, unions and bosses, to “refound” the French welfare state created just after the 1939-45 war.

On the one hand,  Macron says that he wants to find a new social consensus for the 21st century. On the other hand, he says that he wants to charge, without negotiation, into the social and political minefield of pension reform.

In a briefing with journalists earlier this month, the President suggested that he could avoid a lengthy negotiation with unions and the parliament to increase the standard French retirement age (now in theory 62). Changes in system could be tacked onto the annual social security budget next month and then pushed through the Assembly, in effect, by decree.

This week, the government back-pedalled. No decision has yet been taken, they say. One of Macron’s principal allies, the veteran centrist leader, François Bayrou, warned that any attempt to impose such a transformation on French lives by force would be a calamity.

How can we explain the two Macrons?

Partly, they reflect the constitutional powers given to French presidents. On international affairs and European affair, Macron can go largely his own way. On domestic policy, if he has no majority in parliament, his powers are limited.

I believe, however, that the problem runs deeper. There have been reports for months that Macron suffered after his re-election in April from a “drop in energy” or a period of depression.

The second half of his first term had been brutally occupied with non-stop management of the Covid and Ukraine crises. His attempts at mediating with Vladimir Putin had been a discouraging failure.

After his victory over Marine Le Pen, Macron drifted for weeks, delaying his decisions on a new Prime Minister and a new government. He was strangely absent from the parliamentary campaign in June (well below the limits imposed by his position as head of state).

Macron’s distraction contributed to his failure to win a new parliamentary majority; his lack of a majority has, I believe, compounded his mood of indecision and depression.

What to do with five years of a second term? Should he accept that his only role is now crisis-management? After all there are crises enough to manage.

Is the career of the self-proclaimed revolutionary of 2017 finished at the age of 44?  He cannot run again in 2027. He faces the prospect of five years of managerialism and drift while attention switches to his possible successors, from Edouard Philippe in the centre to Marine Le Pen on the Far Right.

“Macron is a magician who has lost his wand,” says one pro-Macron parliamentarian. “He’s still searching  for a way forward, a sense of direction. In short, he has the blues.”

By comparison with French politics, international crises are simple. Macron has clear ideas about the place of France and Europe in the world. He can express himself, both off the cuff and in set-piece speeches, with elegance and intelligence.

Macron has had no other position in elected politics than President of the Republic. He has no background as local or parliamentary politician. The prospect of five years of grinding negotiation to achieve quarter-baked reforms is, I believe, appalling to him.

Hence, his domestic zig-zagging.

He faces three choices in the next few months. He can accept a role as a manager of crises and minimal reforms; he can risk a Yellow Vest-type revolt by using, maybe abusing, his limited constitutional powers to impose change.

Or he can hope for an opportunity in the first half of next year to call a new parliamentary election.

Which way will he go? I don’t know. Nor, I suspect, does Emmanuel Macron.