In the department of Haut-Rhin, the headlines have been in the news since the mayor of Ribeauvillé, Jean-Louis Christ, publicly denounced in the press, about 3 weeks ago, a veritable ” massacre of deer organized by the national forestry office (ONF) in the forest massif that occupies a large part of its municipality. In fact, since the beginning of the slab, ONF agents have been carrying out large-scale samples of the deer, deer and young that inhabit the place, much to the dismay of the vast majority of the population and hunters in this territory. .
Jean-Claude Million, president of the Hunting Interest Group No. their concerns about deer population management. For you to form your own opinion, we deliver this text in full:
” ladies and gentlemen
This week, many views and testimonies about “the slaughter of the deer” were released by the media, and it seemed appropriate to recall some truths, reiterating once again our solidarity and our full support to Jean-Louis CHRIST Mayor of RIBEAUVILLE in his position for the defense of the great wildlife in the massif of your commune.
In view of the threats directed at all those who denounced the incriminating facts, a strong mobilization is underway; it is undeniable that this case has already crossed the borders of Alsace and will have national repercussions.
The facts at the origin of the controversy take place in a national forest where the ONF manages not only logging but also hunting activity for several decades. The regional and departmental directors, the successive directors of the agency, never questioned the management of hunting in this territory; For several years now, GIC hunters and foresters have been working together to find a balance between forest and game without the deer density in this forest raising the slightest question among public foresters.
But recently big game populations in neighboring communal lots (and more generally across the GIC) have been increasingly criticized by cabinet representatives during hunting plan committees, with counts not showing a worrying trend.
Shots requested from winning bidders have continued to increase over the past 6 years and hunting plans have literally exploded since 2020 despite the herd reduction seen during nighttime counts and the realization difficulties experienced by some hunting tenants. It was then that the federation of hunters imposed on the ONF, which contested the decline of the animals and invoked an unbearable deterioration of regeneration, a reinforcement of its impositions.
Interestingly in 2021, the ONF’s hunting plan for said national forest was not achieved and far from it. Not embarrassed by this failure, the office locked itself in its logic of mass destruction by asking once again for an increase in the attributions of the hunting plan to the GIC. It was therefore normal that the hunting plan allocation committee, which distributed the prefecture envelope by the GIC1, considered it necessary to reinforce the quota on this farm with the desire to recover animals not sampled in the previous year.
Responding to our letter from last June about the failure of the ONF to meet its quotas and the resulting sanctions, the mayor informed us in August that the ONF would step up its efforts (!?). While the office had condemned the existence of an overpopulation of deer in the GIC for several years, why had it waited so long to embark on the path of mass reduction, especially if regeneration was in such pain?
Caught by the reality on the ground, the rangers are now forced to shoot at everything that moves to tend to the imposed quota and not lose face as in 2021. Failure to do so for two consecutive years would discredit the speech and, therefore, , all means are good to kill deer.
The ONF continues to highlight the problems of regeneration but always forgets to talk about the health of our forests, especially mature wood.
Regeneration is “the tree that hides the forest”.
Whole lots of coniferous trees are attacked by beetles and the wood perishes on its own; this situation continues to worsen due to global warming, but also due to errors in past forestry guidelines, namely spruce mono-forestry.
There are thousands of m3 that lose their market value (when they are cut) and that cause a clear loss of revenue for forest municipalities.
The answer is always natural regeneration, which we don’t know what will become of it in the face of climate change.
But the office doesn’t seem to believe that much anymore, as our foresters are starting to fill in the gaps to plant exotic species for which we have little prospect in our latitudes; you should know that this new strategy is condemned by many renowned scientists, experts and biologists.
At a time when our forests therefore require special attention, when the ONF is accumulating deficits and denouncing the lack of manpower, some of its agents prefer to run through the woods with their rifles in search of deer or spend the time in meetings. problems in the meadows.
There is a big difference between a successful bidder who pays to hunt mainly on weekends because he has a professional activity, and ONF employees who hunt during the week. The latter are paid by the State to hunt during working hours and it is clear that it is through taxes that the taxpayer participates in this expense that the tax authorities qualify as “sumptuary”.
Is this really the mission entrusted to the Office National des Forestets? Is this not one of the reasons for the financial difficulties that this organization is encountering?
Any business leader knows full well that if his employees go into occupations other than those expected, the company’s profitability will be degraded.
To compensate for the lack of income resulting from the performance of very disparate and time-consuming activities, which are not core business, the search for additional income involves increasing the day care costs billed to the municipalities. Once again, it is the citizens who are at the end of the funding chain!
When foresters teach classes on wild boar management and harm reduction, they simply forget that they also contributed to this situation in the past. Whether in the lowland or mountain state forests, lucrative hunts have revealed stunning images of wild boar.
Feeding, winter walks, and lack of spring and summer regulation have all caused damage to surrounding meadows and crops.
Today, it is the ONF, in the negotiations of the departmental plan and the specifications, that opposes the maintenance of kirrung (bait limited to 1 kg of maize per day, intended to facilitate wild boar hunting).
The Administration that authorized this practice, the Federation of Hunters, the Wild Boar Damage Compensation Fund, wolf hunters, hunters, can testify to the effectiveness of this measure in regulating suid populations in spring, summer, autumn, allowing samples to be taken well in advance of the units. In the mountains, 54% of wild boar killed are killed instead of kirrung.
Successful bidders have already informed me that without the kirrung, they will not be able to shoot as many wild boars. The immediate consequence will be an increase in pasture damage. With the inflation of agricultural products that we are experiencing, an increasing number of hunters (mainly residents of our department) will abandon their hunting lot due to lack of sufficient resources, will not be able to pay insolvency compensation and will put the FIDS in the cessation of payment (the judicial process billing may take a few years). Hunter associations are not fortunate enough to have a sponsor like the State, which comes to replace them in the event of a deficit.
It goes without saying that the ONF will bear a great responsibility in future damages to wild boars that will reach record levels, unbearable with inevitable consequences.
In a bleak economic environment, farmers will no longer be compensated or within very long timeframes (legal proceedings against winning bidders will be lengthy) and, as we are often told, many farms will go unpaid.
The reference to a density per 100 ha is a completely outdated approach, abandoned by the GIC long ago in agreement with the previous directors of the ONF. Density in the central zone or in the peripheral zone? Density in rich or poor forest? Density in summer or winter?
14 deer per 100 ha observed on average or in certain locations? Density of 7 per 100 ha as the objective established by the plan, but where since the quality of the lots is not homogeneous?
Or even 2 to 4 per 100 ha as proposed by the ONF, which is dissociated from the objective presented in the departmental plan?
The GIC has long preferred to talk about the capacity to accommodate the environment, but there the commitments assumed by the ONF in the specifications and in the plan are not absolutely respected.
Absence of deer needed in meadows because they eat grass, absence of deer expected in forests because they graze on trees, fences in clearings… but where can these animals feed?
Even if this letter earns us some enmity and special vigilance in the exercise of our passion, it is up to us, leaders of the GIC, to denounce the practices that tarnish the image of hunting. At a time when certain political parties want to legislate on animal rights and welfare, what we are experiencing in Ribeauvillé is a real provocation.
The Municipality of Ribeauvillé and other elected officials, the Federation of Hunters, the GIC have agreed to meet soon to reflect on new paths in forest management more in harmony with hunting management.
What could be more legitimate for a landlord than resorting to his tenant to agree with him on the terms of preserving his heritage, both fauna and flora.
Of course, we will invite all interested municipalities to participate in this process.
With our best regards »
Jean-Claude MILLION François DELACHAUX
President of GIC1 Vice President of GIC1