Answers from Emmanuel Macron, candidate for a new term, for

After Eric Zemmour, Valerie Pécresse, Fabien Roussel, John Lassalle, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron agreed to answer our questions. This interview could not take the form of aand video withtaking into account the President-Candidate’s agenda. As a reminder, during this campaign, we ask all candidates. Thus, Philippe Poutou, Anne Hidalgo and Nathalie Arthaud never showed signs of life. Jean-Luc Melenchon, after a first contact, quickly stopped talking to us. Yannick Jadot declined to speak in the form of a video Q&A. Finally, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan twice canceled his participation (the same morning!).

After just over six months of campaigning, we ended our investigation with the President-Candidate. Suspension of the glue hunt, problems of interaction between certain ministers and the hunting world, help with taxation of federations, global assessment of his five-year mandate for the hunt, “on the spot” responses of the candidate to his re-election.

Baudouin de Saint Leger: Emmanuel Macron, what is your assessment of the relationships you managed to maintain with hunters during your five-year tenure?
Emmanuel Macron: Since 2017, we have carried out with the National Federation of Hunters the reforms that we consider necessary to better integrate hunting into the heart of biodiversity. To this end, we started a historic reform with a national license of 200 euros, accessible to all and which has already attracted more than one in two hunters. It was a strong commitment from the 2017 campaign to develop hunting and we stuck to that. We went further in expanding the public service missions of your federations, because you play an important role in the dynamism of our rural areas. Because you are fully involved in defending nature on a daily basis, we have also created a new financial mechanism to encourage you to do even more. This is the principle of eco-contribution, which allows the State to engage with it in nature protection activities that have been validated by the OFB, such as planting hedges, restoring essential natural areas for the maintenance of certain species or improving knowledge of the species. Making hunting more accessible, cheaper and promoting the biodiversity common in rural areas were priorities I was very attentive to. With the president of the national federation, I had a demanding, constructive and frank dialogue during the five years of my mandate.

BSL: Several departmental hunter federations are close to bankruptcy due to hunting damage. What do you plan to do for them if you are re-elected?
ME: The hunting world has another mission of general interest of extreme importance, but also very sensitive, which is to guarantee compensation for the damage caused by hunting to farmers. With more than €77 million a year paid entirely out of pocket for hunters, I am perfectly aware that the system established in 1968 has reached its limits. It must be recognized that the very strong growth of large game populations is due to multiple factors, including the increase in unhunted territories. That is why we supported your consultation with all agricultural organizations which, after a year of dialogue, resulted in a historic agreement with the aim of reducing hunting damage by simplifying various procedures. The State must now assume the commitment to accompany him in the implementation of this vast plan of action. If you trust me, we will support the departmental federations, and the state will help finance the damages. The exceptional funding will fully compensate for the increase in the price of agricultural raw materials linked to the Ukrainian crisis, so that their federations can cope within the framework of the resilience plan announced by the Prime Minister.

BSL: Five years ago, you announced at the FNC Congress that you would never touch traditional hunts. However, the glue hunt was suspended during his tenure, why not have defended these ancestral hunts?EM: On traditional hunts, my position hasn’t changed since 2017. It’s the jurisprudence of the Council of State that has changed a lot recently! For me, these hunts are part of the heritage and history of our territories. Harvesting in very small amounts does not pose a threat to biodiversity and bird populations, and is subject to very strict quotas. That is why I asked the government to take over the decrees, which are currently being examined by the Council of State, because I am convinced that they comply with European law.

BSL: You also mentioned at that time that hunting was a way of life and that it should remain within the environment. Given the hunters’ strained relationships with Nicolas Hulot, Barbara Pompili and Bérangère Abba, don’t you think the hunting ministry should be changed or at least adapted to people who might believe in the role of hunters??
ME: In 2017, I fully agreed to keep hunting at the heart of biodiversity and therefore under the supervision of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. At the hunters’ congress, I clearly said that if hunting were only transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, it would become the adjustment variable for agricultural and forestry policies and you would have everything to lose. I believe we had a consensus around this idea. I am convinced that the protection of biodiversity and the practice of hunting should not be opposed, that makes no sense. In possession of these principles, whether in the institutional organization of the next government or in public policies, I will take care of that.

BSL: In 1977, less than 300,000 deer and wild boar were sampled in France. In 2021, over one and a half million large animals were harvested, however, we still continue to import venison from New Zealand or Eastern Europe. Don’t you think we need to overhaul our system, and if so, how?
In addition to the delicate issue of damage, we have other projects and the venison one is a real issue. The sector is in its infancy, while the gastronomy around hunting is a tremendous asset to consumers as well as our regions. We must be able to structure it and make it grow. For this, the collection must be improved with local equipment. It will also be necessary to associate food trades or butchers to have finished, consumable and immediately marketable products in our regions.

BSL: For five years, hunters were constantly attacked from within. Verbal threats, hunting hut fires, labels in federations, animalist punching actions on hunting farms, hunting obstruction, what do you intend to do so that those responsible for these actions are actually punished?
I strongly condemn any kind of violence. I am therefore in favor of introducing a crime of rural obstruction, which concerns hunters, but also farmers and all those who carry out legal activities. We must establish it and facilitate investigations and verifications. This will include the reinforcement of the OFB’s police missions, more than necessary, under the authority of the mayors. The development agents of the federations that provide a local hunting police will see their prerogatives reinforced, namely on environmental incivilities to help the mayors of small rural communes. I also defend, they have already seen the announcement of the creation of 200 new gendarmerie brigades that will be essential in the rural world when we were quite used to the closure of public services.

BSL: He 5 years ago, like you, we interviewed Yannick Jadot on the subject of hunting, he told us about his grandfather. He told us that hunting was his favorite weekend pastime, yet three months ago, in a twist, he proposed a ban on hunting on weekends and school holidays. What was his reaction to those comments?
EM: In general, I think our country suffers from the radical remarks to pit the French against each other, rural people against urban people, good environmentalists against bad environmentalists. Hunters are entitled to the same respect as our fellow citizens. You love nature, you are a watchman, especially in terms of health, a whistleblower when habitats are degraded, often space managers. For my part, and because I believe that hunting continues to be popular, it would be harmful for users to ban it on weekends and holidays. I won’t if the French trust me again. But I also hear voices asking for it and solutions must be devised, through dialogue and consultation, on the ground. With regard to safety and coexistence in nature, I want to welcome the progress made. But there are still many accidents, which sometimes turn tragic. In this regard, I welcome the initiative of the President of the National Federation to initiate a dialogue with other users of nature. Everything must be done to avoid tragedies. I know you share that commitment.

BSL: If you are re-elected, will you make new arrangements for hunting during this next five-year term?
ME: We share an attachment to science, which should guide us in managing biodiversity. This is what also helps to dispass debates. We need to be able to stop a hunt when a species is in bad shape. The same goes for the management of non-game species when they become superabundant and cause damage. It was our ambition with adaptive management, but we were not successful. We will develop adaptive management, to unlock its governance and make it a true joint tool to advise and guide public decision-making on species that can be hunted or that cause significant damage. In addition, we will launch a program of scientific knowledge of the species that will associate you closely with your work, because there you must play a more important role than today.

The same goes for the gray goose hunting dates, which I know you are so attached to. Because we act together, rationally, with scientific data, we can now consider extending the harvesting periods, establishing a precise European management plan, which will make it possible to avoid this incongruous situation in which hunting is prohibited in France to kill these same birds by the dozens thousands a little further north, to protect crops from harm. I wanted to finish by saying a few more personal words. His passion for hunting reveals a deep and ancient connection to rural areas, their traditions, their environments and their landscapes. During the last five years, we have had a regular, frank and constructive dialogue. Our reforms are moving in the direction of simplification and cost control, because French hunting is a popular activity whose development must be supported. In any case, I will continue this nourishing dialogue with the various authorities that has never ceased.

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