France introduces €1,500 fine for drunk hunters

The Local France
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France introduces €1,500 fine for drunk hunters
Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP

Hunters who are caught with a gun or bow in their hand while drunk face fines of €1,500 - or €3,000 for repeat offenders - under France's new laws aimed at cutting fatal accidents linked to 'la chasse'.


Hunting in France is controversial - not only on animal rights grounds, but because of the numbers of fatal accidents that take place each season - some of which involve passers-by such as hikers, cyclists and dog-walkers being shot by mistake by hunters.

The government earlier this year announced a 14-point plan to improve safety around la chasse (hunting, which in France mainly means shooting) and on Sunday the new law was published in the Journal Officiel.

READ ALSO How to get through the French hunting season without getting shot

It decrees a fine of €1,500 for "being in a state of obvious intoxication while carrying a firearm or bow while hunting". This would rise to €3,000 for anyone convicted more than once.


High profile cases of hunting accidents include people who have been caught in the crossfire while cycling or hiking, or shot while in their own gardens having been mistaken for a deer or a wild boar. 

In many cases of hunting accidents, the hunter who fired the fatal shot was under the influence of alcohol. 

However, hunting-related accidents have fallen steeply over the last 20 years following the introduction of several new codes of conduct and the tightening of the rules around licences and gun ownership.

In the 2022/23 hunting season, 78 accidents were recorded - of which six were fatal. All of those who died were hunters themselves, rather than passers-by.

The government's latest hunting-related rules include, in addition to the €1,500 fines, an online platform for obtaining hunting licences and the standardisation of signs that hunts must put up to inform members of the public that they are hunting nearby. 

They rejected proposals to ban hunting on weekends or during school holidays, which some lobby groups had called for.

Hunting is a hugely popular activity in France, around 5 million people have shotgun licences and there are 1.03 million practising hunters in France. Every year, some 20,000 new hunters obtain their licence.


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