The young minister of biodiversity, Bérengère Abba, authorized the prefects to authorize hunting to regulate big game, but not to authorize hunting for recreation.
Vincent Filon, farmer from Haute-Saône, who is not himself a farmer, told the press service FranceInfo: “November and December are important hunting periods in normal times.
“If we stop hunting for a month, a month and a half, 2,000 to 2,500 boars will not be killed, and we risk seeing significant damage to crops that have just been sown in October.”
Yet some hunting advocates have called for the exception to go further. Authorities in some departments – including Pas-de-Calais – have issued decrees allowing more species to be targeted.
Willy Shraen, chairman of the hunters’ federation hunting group, confirmed that he was authorized to hunt “all harmful species”, including wood pigeons and magpies.
He said: “As soon as you talk about [banning the hunt of] other species than big game, we have a block. There are some departments where, I’m sorry, but the boar is not the main damage problem. It is another species.
“We had to adapt this exception, but then we find ourselves in opposition with the people of the ministry who tell us that it is out of the question. Well, why write [the exception] then? “
Animal protection groups: “scandal”
But animal welfare activists have accused the hunters of wanting to “blur the lines” between hunting authorized for regulatory purposes and hunting for recreation.
Some hunters’ federations, including that of the Landes department, have suggested that hunting be allowed under lockdown rules, “as long as people do it within a kilometer of their homes and within the hour” , according to a recorded message from the Landes hunting federation. .
This would suggest that hunting is permitted “as an exercise activity”, under the foreclosure rules.
This has been contested by animal welfare groups, including the bird welfare association the Bird Protection League (LPO), which has said it will fight decrees extending the exception.
The French can no longer enjoy nature alone or with their family. Except the hunters !!! Each prefect will be able to derogate. The flyer is ready. Thank you @EmmanuelMacron ! pic.twitter.com/zRJ3dBWQZq
– LPO France (@LPOFrance) October 31, 2020
LPO Director General Yves Verhillac said: “The decrees in the vast majority of prefects and departments are good, and we will not attack them. But there are some departments where obviously we have hunting licenses where we shouldn’t.
“We are witnessing a hunting lobby scandal.”
The Eco party Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV) also denounced the exception, saying it causes inequalities in the access of people to the outdoors during the lockdown.
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