constant disagreement between walkers and hunters

Fatal hunting accidents in Lot in 2020 and Cantal in 2022 have mobilized the population. The government will announce a series of measures for hunting safety on January 9. Will hunting still be allowed on Sundays? More and more French are against it. Reactions in Occitania.

I live in the countryside, I like to walk. I walk almost every day except Wednesdays and weekends. Why? I am very afraid of hunters!”. Magalie* lives in Ariege near Merens, she has changed her habits like many travelers.

“When I’m in my garden, I see hunters around my house, high up… I’m always afraid of getting shot!” he continues. So, even on open roads, going for a walk is out of the question. Yesand if you get into the car and see them on the side of the road, you’re not sure you’ll get to your destination“.

The OFB (French Biodiversity Office) may see a general decrease in accidents over 20 years, but the fear is there. In December 2020, the latest news about the death of 25-year-old Morgan Keene, who was chopping firewood in his garden, was published in the media.A 25-year-old traveler was killed in Cantal in February 2022. revived the debate.

According to a July 2020 report by the French Biodiversity Office, 3,325 hunting accidents have been recorded since 2000, resulting in 421 deaths. During 2021-2022, OFB registered a total of 90 hunting accidents (bodily injuries related to the use of hunting weapons), including 8 deaths. Two of them were non-hunter victims.

These hunting accidents no longer pass. They are described as “hunting crimes” by the families of the victims. And in general, the population is satisfied. An Ifop survey commissioned by seven nature conservation organizations highlights this: 70% of people surveyed say they do not feel safe walking in nature during the hunting season. In 2009, they were only 54%.

According to the LPO (League for the Protection of Birds), people living in rural areas are the most concerned: 74% against 67% of those living in the Paris region. As in 2016, the survey revealed that 78% of French people are in favor of banning hunting on Sundays. Petitions are being circulated on this topic. Aspas (Wildlife Protection Association) has been asking for a day without hunting for 30 years. He notes that France is the last country in Europe without it.

“I live in a spa where there are a lot of tourists, but on hunting days they walk around town or go to the Pas de la Casa instead of going out into nature here. They’re safer than the beautiful roads that are built all over the place. Alain Marek, Aspas’ representative in Occitania, explains. I even saw a hunter standing. It is not straight, it has bumps. I alerted the mayor, told him something had to be done. He answered: “Ah! I will talk about it”… They call me every day to inform me about such cases.

“There are only conflicts, Alain Marek continues. All because we have no dialogue with the hunters. We must explain to them that nature does not belong to them 365 days a year. Nature belongs to all, especially communal forests and ONF forests”.

“Besides, every municipality has its own hunting association. You find yourself in an array where there are four or five associations and they hunt in four or five places on the same day. You don’t know where they are, you are always in danger. There is always someone in the mountains with dangerous weapons. .At 1.5 km the shot is deadly and there are bounces. They have big guns because they hunt big game. And they are not afraid to shoot. They get bored, they start again. People have realized this with all the accidents and are afraid to go out.”

Jean-Luc Fernandez, the president of the Ariege hunting federation, who we reached by phone, doesn’t even hear it. Losing one day a week is unacceptable for him. Hunters have the right to go hunting on the weekends, just as others go hiking. Walkers recognize that there may be other purposes in rural areas. About thirty deaths have occurred on beaches, private pools, and Mont Blanc, and it is not only hunting that is risky.”

When told that these sports are not practiced with weapons capable of injuring or killing a third person, the hunter replies: “We hunt in the forests where we have the right to hunt. I have hunting companies that pay 75,000 euros to be able to hunt in state forests. They are rented by hunters at great expense, and they are the only ones who can afford anything. You go mushrooming, hiking or climbing Mont Vallée, doing extreme sports, mountain biking, you don’t pay anything.”

“When you pay 75,000 euros, you deserve not to be insulted. You are insulted because you are a hunter, you are attacked, but you are not a subspecies! Say I can’t hunt on Sundays. I want to be able to hunt where I have the right to hunt all year round. I have 30 hectares in Ariege. I pay taxes and you’re going to tell me: don’t you have the right to hunt there one day a week?

“At Ariege, we hunt three days a week, especially on beats. There are seven days a week. We put up signs, we report our shots. There’s room for everyone. When you’re on the right, just go left and vice versa.”.

If the government decides to ban hunting for one day a week, the federation president says he will enforce the law, but warns: “The land will be closed, the village will be closed. 70% of the village and the mountains are private. People will ask pedestrians to go for a walk somewhere else. We will pit people against each other.”

For OFB, the vast majority of hunting accidents are caused by human error due to failure to follow basic safety rules. “Among the main causes of recorded accidents, we find, as in previous years, the violation of basic safety rules when driving big game: failure to observe the shooting angle (30 degrees), mishandling the weapon, shooting in the direction of fire. roads, dwellings or footpaths”.

The associations that questioned the President of the Republic reminded that hunting is not like other sports and presented “deadly risks” especially for non-practitioners. They asked him “giving Sunday respite to other nature users as well as fauna”. From September 1, 2022, there will be 18 casualties among non-hunters (including one death) and 17 among hunters (including two deaths).

* Magali is an assumed name

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