Hunters must compensate peasants for damage caused by wild boar, deer and deer

If there is one species that does not suffer from human presence, it is the wild boar. Their multiplication causes a lot of damage to crops, and hunters will have to continue to compensate farmers, the Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday, a provision that was contested by the National Federation of Hunters (FNC).

The FNC had sued the Council of State to challenge the compensation system for damage to big game (boar, deer and roe deer). The Council of State had referred the matter to the Constitutional Council to verify whether or not the contested legislative provisions were contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Currently, this damage is paid to farmers by departmental hunting federations, starting from a certain limit and according to a scale.

Hunter federations responsible for drawing up species management plans

The FNC criticizes “these provisions for violating the principle of equality in the face of public charges, on the grounds that they only place the departmental federations of hunters with the burden of compensation for the damage caused to big game, while the amount has increased due to the proliferation of certain kinds”, recalls the Constitutional Council in its decision. “For the same reasons, it would also result in a misunderstanding about the right to property”, it specifies.

The departmental federations of hunters are responsible for drawing up hunting plans and managing wild animal species, recalls the Constitutional Council. “Thus, the assumption by these federations of compensation for the damage caused by big game hunting is directly linked to the public service missions entrusted to them”, he defends.

Furthermore, this compensation only intervenes from a minimum threshold and can be reduced in certain cases, indicates the Constitutional Council.

77.3 million in 2019

It follows that “in view of the financial burden represented by the compensation for damage caused by big game, the contested provisions do not lead to a clear violation of equality in the face of public costs” and that “they must be declared in accordance with art. . Constitution”, concludes the Council.

The FNC “takes note” of this decision, its president Willy Schraen told AFP, noting that a “door is open” by the Constitutional Council if the amount of compensation increases further.

For 2019, hunters paid €77.3 million, including €46 million in direct compensation to farmers, €25.3 million to investigate cases and €6 million for preventive action, according to the FNC.

“We are not far from a general bankruptcy”, warns Willy Schraen, who “will continue to discuss with the State and agricultural partners a reformulation of the law”.

A proliferating population

The wild boar population has multiplied in France in recent decades, helped by milder winters, the absence of natural predators and hunting that has been carried out for a long time “in order to (…) guarantee the preservation or even the development” of animals, from according to a parliamentary report published in 2019.

This was followed by an increase in agricultural damage, in particular corn, common wheat and grasslands, to the point where Christiane Lambert, president of the first agricultural union, the FNSEA, publicly criticized poachers in 2018 for not doing so.

“The hunters behave like firefighters”, criticized Allain Bougrain Dubourg, president of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), arguing that hunters have long practiced the “release of farm animals” and “feeding throughout the year in certain regions” of wild boar.

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