Are there really 20 million animals raised in France each year for hunting? This is the estimate advanced by Yannick Jadot, environmentalist candidate for the presidential election, during a live broadcast on the Instagram pages of the 20 minutes and TF1 on Friday. “Do you know that in France every year 20 million animals are bred to kill them as soon as they come out of their cages?” he launched. It’s the pheasants you see in the wild, they almost eat out of your hand because they were created by the hand of man. We cannot organize this suffering. »
MEP EELV also spoke out for the reduction of shooting, wanting to ban it on weekends and during school holidays. The ecologist is also campaigning to ban hunting with dogs and hunting protected species.
Where does that estimate of 20 million he gave on Wednesday come from? Yannick Jadot’s team specifies 20 minutes that the candidate was based on a number that “comes from the national union of game producers that is taken up by the media and associations that work with the animal condition (ASPAS, L214…)”.
An estimate dated to at least 2013, currently being updated
This estimate was given by the National Union of Game Producers (SNPGC), but dates back to at least 2013. This figure of 20 million includes several species according to the union: 14 million pheasants, 5 million gray and red partridges, a million mallards, 40,000 French hares, 100,000 wild rabbits, 10,000 deer and 7,000 fallow deer. These animals were supposed to be released into the wild in France.
Eight years after its publication, Jean-Christophe Chastang, president of the union, creator himself and also president of Interprochasse, an interprofession that brings together professionals to “ensure the promotion of hunting among the general public”, is distancing himself from these numbers. He explains the 20 minutes that an investigation is underway to update them. According to the first results, there would now be “10 to 15 million birds”, which would be raised in France, he says.
Not all animals are meant to be hunted immediately, argues Jean-Christophe Chastang
Jean-Christophe Chastang also disagrees with the fact that animals released into the wild would come out of “cages”, as Yannick Jadot explained. “The game is not created in cages, quite the opposite,” he says. They are animals destined to be returned to the wild. For that, we need to have animals that are extremely capable of adapting to the territories. They are animals that live most of their productive cycle in large areas, with large aviaries, with rich and varied biotopes. »
Pheasants a few weeks old are well placed in “variable surface” aviaries, noted in 2018 the association for the protection of wild animals (ASPAS), which campaigns for a ban on hunting farms for hunting. The SNGPC therefore requires 3m² per animal. Some birds, on the other hand, are placed in open-air cages, called layers, for the breeding process, ASPAS also noted. However, “the vast majority of breeders do not practice breeding and buy day-old chicks from large farms”, specified this association.
Once bred, are these animals released to be immediately hunted, as the environmentalist presidential candidate explained? Once again, Jean-Christophe Chastang denies it, noting that animals are placed in nature at different times of the year, in the spring for breeding, in the summer for restocking and, finally, during the hunting season to be hunted. “The game is not fully taken over [le prélèvement est l’acte de chasse], he adds. There is no precise and exact number, but the rates fluctuate between 40 and 60% [des animaux mis dans la nature], which means that we have between 60 and 40% of the animals that remain in the territory. »
A survey carried out in 2013-2014 by the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife, since incorporated into the French Biodiversity Office – which did not respond to our requests for this article – estimated the number of common pheasants hunted at around three million. The Office then noted that “most of this sampling is carried out on poultry”.
What happens to the other animals that are not hunted? According to Aspas, many “do not survive in the wild, at least until they can breed there in the spring after release. Is it the predators’ fault?