How many hunting grounds are there in France? – Liberation

A video showing deer behind the fence of a hunting grounds near Reims has revived the debate over this pay-to-shoot activity in captivity.

Big eyes moved thousands of netizens this weekend. The doe, or rather the deer in question, as well as several of its congeners, await death behind a fence, locked in a hunting pen. Journalist Charles-Henry Boudet posted a video of this on Twitter. “domain” opened near Reims “with the agreement of the authorities”or “for €2,200, you can slaughter these animals – banded and breeding – trapped in 330 hectares”, sums up your post. Many discovered the existence of these places, however numerous and legal.

The Domaine des Vignes website and the social networks where these images were filmed have not been accessible since Sunday. On websites dedicated to hunting, however, it is listed as “an exceptional property in the heart of the Marne forests”in Sept-Saulx, about thirty kilometers from Reims. “A domain dedicated exclusively to hunting” come over “Spend time with family or friends”. although called “domain” the characteristics of the place seem to classify it in the category of “hunting grounds”, because when observing the terrain in satellite view on Google Maps, a house is visible in the middle of the terrain.

Property, park and hunting grounds

The authorization of hunting grounds is regulated by article L.424-3 of the environmental code, in its wording resulting from the law on the development of rural territories of 23 February 2005. They are defined as “properties adjacent to a dwelling and surrounded by a continuous and constant fence that obstructs all communication with neighboring properties and completely prevents the passage of game and man”. In other words, “for a property to enjoy the privilege of the enclosure, the following cumulative conditions must be met: the property includes a dwelling; the land must be adjacent to the dwelling. The owner must be able to move from the house to the premises without having to go through a public place; the fence must be very complete: continuous, constant and obstruct any communication with neighboring lands”, summarizes the association Chasse et liberté in Sologne. “If any of these conditions are not present, then it is a game park.”

But the main criterion that differentiates the “enclosure” from the park or hunting estate is the “continuous and constant closing” delimiting the location. authorize the hunt “furry game” throughout the year, while the other two are subject to the opening and closing periods of the activity. “Consequently, the organization of paid hunts is greatly facilitated there. It is also easier to control the number of large and small game and their quality on the property. Hunting in a hunting paddock is often faster and easier»comments the real estate company Barnes Properties, in an article providing advice on buying properties for what some consider a hobby.

However, hunting grounds must respect the limit of one animal per hectare. In addition, they are considered undeclared breeding, which is an offense punishable by article L.415-3 of the environmental code, explained Jean-Noël Rieffel, regional director of the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) Centro-Val-de -Loire, in a recent interview with the mountain. And to give an example: “Ofb agents have already encountered such situations in Sologne and fined the violators. I can cite a hunting enclosure fined at Cher in 2016 because it counted 160 wild boar for 130 ha. However, controls are also hampered. OFB agents are in fact prohibited from entering the occupants’ home without a judge’s order. And the jurisprudence has extended this protection due to housing to all hunting grounds (hunting grounds).

485 hunting grounds at last count

Regardless of whether your use is personal or commercial, these locations are private, which makes it difficult to count them. Only an administrative survey by the National Office of Game and Wildlife (ONCFS) published in 2012 based on data collected in 2009 was able to establish an official census. In this national inventory of “wild ungulates in captivity”, the ONCFS, had 3,371 closed structures, housing about 90,000 ungulates on 174,100 hectares. Among the structures surveyed, 587 are used as hunting parks and 485 are hunting grounds. When comparing the results of 1991 (date of the previous study) with those obtained in 2009, ONCFS states that it observes “that in twenty years the number of closed spaces has increased by about 30%. […] The proportion of enclosed spaces where fallow deer are kept increased from 27% to 42%, as did deer and roe deer (from 9% for both to 20% and 19%, respectively).

These data are now more than ten years old. In 2019, the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (Aspas) carried out an investigation into the “hunting of captive animals”. This resulted in an estimated 1,300 private plots and enclosures – enclosures and hunting grounds, therefore – containing between 50,000 and 100,000 wild boar, deer, roe deer, mouflons or fallow deer. “bred to be hunted”. For its part, the One Voice association has endeavored to establish a map of hunting grounds, based on public data, to raise awareness of their number. “A significant number of professional hunting establishments are mentioned on websites dedicated to hunting. The objective of the project was to collect these addresses, paying special attention to determining the type of hunting territory (open or closed) as well as its seasonality (period/outside the hunting period)”, explains the association Check news. Result: 567 distinct addresses, including at least 256 fully enclosed spaces. “Some keep them for private use or only offer their business on closed networks, so there are probably far fewer venues on our map than there actually are.”

Ecological and ethical problem

“It is generally accepted that the fence should be at least 2 meters high and be buried 30 to 50 centimeters in the ground. In addition, whatever material is used, it must resist the pressure of large animals and prevent the passage of small mammals that can be hunted, as the law says that the fence must be impermeable to the passage of humans and game., describes the OFB in an article pointing out the problems of these walls in the middle of the forest. Fact that, its construction in the natural environment […] is in fact contrary to the free movement of wild animals in the natural space and to ecological continuities”.

In addition to ecological criticism, netizens were outraged by the process. Several associations have been mobilizing for many years to end the practice. Aspas, following its investigation, collected around 60,000 signatures on a petition to ban hunting in enclosures. Its director Madline Rubin has also managed to mobilize 20,000 citizens and recover 2 million euros to buy back a hunting ground and rehabilitate it into a nature reserve, as the program shows. Ahead, “The opaque world of hunting grounds” broadcast on TV France this year.

Politicians are also mobilizing to end the practice. On Twitter, the National Secretary for Ecology of Europe – the Greens, Julien Bayou, denounced “a business to the detriment of the living”. Reims Mayor Arnaud Robinet enlightened not having authority over this location, which is not your municipality, and not endorsing the practice in a personal capacity: “If it had been Reims, I would have objected. I do not endorse this type of hunting in any way. More specifically, a mayor of Loir-et-Cher took a stand against the creation of a hunting pen in his town, until the project was cancelled. A bill was also introduced last May by a group of rebel deputies from France. She asks “the ban on the enclosure of wild animals for hunting purposes”. Not yet examined, it should be soon by the Commission on Sustainable Development and Regional Planning of the National Assembly.

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