Where do the French presidential candidates stand on hunting?

The death of a 25-year-old hiker has prompted renewed calls for a crackdown on hunting in France - but what exactly are the candidates in the French presidential election proposing?

Hunting is becoming an ever-larger theme in the French Presidential election.
Hunting is becoming an ever-larger theme in the French Presidential election. But where do the candidates stand? (Photo by Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP)

The accidental killing of a 25-year-old hiker by a stray bullet over the weekend has led some campaigners to call once again for restrictions on hunting in France. 

“We need a political response because unfortunately, the death of this woman is not an isolated case,” said Christophe Marie, a spokesman for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. 

“We are demanding a much stricter regulation of hunting and days without hunting so that we can better share nature,” he told FranceInfo

As well as the animal welfare issue, an increasing number of people are calling for hunting to be restricted on safety grounds – particularly shooting, which results in the death of around 20 people every year in accidents.

During the 2020-21 season, runs from around September-February, there were 83 hunting accidents – seven of which were fatal. 

With the presidential election fast-approaching, candidates are in a tricky position. Measures to better protect the public and animals may go down well with some sections of the public – an IFOP survey in 2021 found that only 18 percent of the population had a favourable view of hunting. 

But restrictions risk alienating the hunting lobby which is seen as an important rural constituency (around 1 million French people hold hunting permits). 

While none of the leading candidates are calling for a blanket ban on hunting, they do have some policy differences. Here is where they stand:

Emmanuel Macron 

French President Emmanuel Macron has yet to declare his intention to run for reelection, but is highly likely to do so in the coming days. 

His government has been reluctant to regulate hunting, but did ban glue-traps (coating branches with glue to capture birds) last year. 

However in October, the government reauthorised previously illegal “traditional hunting” methods of 115,000 species of bird, banned by a 2009 European directive.  

Macron’s former environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, resigned in 2018 in protest against the influence of the hunting lobby on policy-making. 

Some French media speculate that Emmanuel Macron may soon announce an elevated quota of the number of wild boar that can be shot during the hunting season. 

The current environment minister has said that she is open to discussions on banning minors from obtaining hunting permits and limiting the number of days during which hunting can take place.

Marine Le Pen

The far-right candidate is against a partial ban on hunting at the weekend and school holidays. 

She has said that on a personal level, she is against using dogs and horses for hunting (chasse à courre), a widespread rural practice in France.

However she is not against shooting, which is the most common form of hunting in France. 

Valérie Pécresse

In front of a hunting lobby group earlier this month, Valérie Pécresse, candidate for the centre-right Les Républicains, called on ecologists to “stop hunting the hunters”. 

Her campaign manager is an avid practitioner of chasse à courre

She told France 2 that she was against a blanket ban on hunting at the weekend, but in Ile-de-France where she is the head regional council, hunting in public forests is not currently allowed at the weekend. 

Éric Zemmour 

Far right former TV pundit Éric Zemmour described calls to ban hunting at the weekend and school holidays as a “stupid proposition” and described vegans and animal-rights activists as wanting to “annihilate mankind”. 

Zemmour has also voiced his support for reinstating glue trap hunting. 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, currently the highest polling left-wing candidate in the presidential race, has called for banning chasse à courre and other cruel practices; a ban on hunting at the weekend and during school holidays; a ban on hunting during seasons when baby mammals are still dependent on their mothers; and a ban on the sale of the most powerful hunting weapons. 

“Not all traditions are worth keeping,” he is quoted as saying in one interview

Yannick Jadot 

Yannick Jadot, presidential candidate for France’s ecologist party, the EELV, does not want to ban hunting completely. 

Instead, he is calling for hunting to be banned during school holidays and two days a week – including on Sunday. 

He is firmly opposed to all forms of hunting that rely on traps, as well as chasse à courre. 

“We need to regulate this activity [hunting] more, it is an emergency,” he said

Anne Hidalgo 

As candidate for the once powerful French Socialist Party, Anne Hidalgo, has made very little mention of hunting so far in the campaign and her manifesto does not lay out any policies on the subject. 

This is potentially because as Mayor of Paris, she is keen to avoid further accusations of being part of a disconnected metropolitan elite. 

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.