With the trial of two hunters for “manslaughter” against Morgan Keane, a 25-year-old killed in his garden in 2020, begins this Thursday, Green takes stock of the need, or not, to use hunting to regulate wild species.
What animals are hunted in France?
In France, 22 million animals are killed each year and 90 species can be hunted. According to hunting tables compiled by the French Office of Biodiversity from hunter testimonials and surveys, the number of large mammals hunted has risen sharply in recent decades. 69,876 red deer were killed in 2020 compared to 5,395 in 1973, i.e. 13 times more; 581,325 deer in 2020 compared to 51,010 in 1973, 10 times more. But it is wild boar hunting that really exploded with 801,375 individuals killed in 2020, against 35,893 in 1973, i.e. 22 times more. Flight that also covers chamois, mouflons, chamois and fallow deer, all authorized big game.
However, it is the birds that pay the highest price in France. They would thus represent 80% of catches for the 2013-2014 season, according to the latest available data established by the OFB. According to the League for the Protection of Birds, France holds the European record for the number of bird species hunted: 64. Of these, 20 are endangered. For example, the capercaillie is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which draws up the Red List of Threatened Species.
Do these animals pose a threat, do they cause “harm”?
🇧🇷 The vast majority of animals killed by hunting, approximately 90 or 95% do not need to be regulated”, details the biologist Pierre Rigaux with Green🇧🇷 A figure he himself extracted from the hunting boards. This is the case, mainly, of farm animals, released to serve as shooting targets. The Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (Aspas) estimates that, each year, 10 to 15 million pheasants are released in France.
The main culprits for field damage are wild boars when deer and roe deer attack the forests – eating the saplings of the trees. Wild animal populations which, in both cases, have increased sharply in recent decades. Among the multiple causes of this increase, a 2019 parliamentary report noted “the interest shown by hunters in big game, accompanying the scarcity of small game, encouraging them to adopt a management that aims at the conservation of the populations”🇧🇷 the practice of dissuasive feeding, having become in certain regions in feeding throughout the year”🇧🇷 The report also notes the development of maize monocultures and increased food availability linked to climate change. On the deer side, the report identifies “hunters’ interest in catching large adult male deer in search of the trophy and, conversely, their reluctance to shoot juveniles and females” 🇧🇷 “a relative disdain for the roe deer, except in certain regions very prone to shooting the brocade on approach, leading to harvests lower than the potential of the populations present”🇧🇷
🇧🇷 My hypothesis is that there is a control strategy problemsays Philippe Grandcolas, ecologist and director of research at the CNRS. A living species has an age structure and a social structure. Hunters like older dollars that are bigger. But by killing them, they give young males access to reproduction, thus increasing populations. This is a general rule for wolves, badgers. Furthermore, when certain places are emptied of badgers, adjacent populations come to fill those places.🇧🇷 Finally, some animals criticized for being disease reservoirs, such as the badger with tuberculosis, shed and shed infectious agents. 🇧🇷
For animals previously called “pests”, one can question the relevance of hunting as a regulatory practice. 🇧🇷 Every year we destroy this number of foxes and it is useless because the fox is opportunistic and the females regulate their fertility according to the availability of the environment. It is also known that in the year when there are no hares, female lynxes do not give birth. And in years when there are lots of voles, there are lots of weasels. Prey regulate predators, not the other way around. », Details Marc Giraud, from Aspas.
In addition to the spread of disease and the potential rebound effects of crop damage, other adverse effects should be noted. Hunting continues to kill humans: eight people lost their lives during the 2021-2022 season in France, and 90 accidents were recorded. In addition, 14,000 tonnes of lead end up in nature in Europe every year, according to the European Chemicals Agency.
Could we imagine the end of regulation for all of this?
Hunting and regulation are not synonymous. In canton Geneva, Switzerland, hunting was banned in 1974 after popular vote. However, regulation has not been abandoned. The canton indicates that “When necessary, the professional control shots carried out by the environmental guards are carried out with state-of-the-art equipment, in order to cause the animal the least amount of stress and suffering. The Geneva assessment of the abolition of hunting is therefore proving to be positive with effective wildlife management well suited to the context of the canton and its population.🇧🇷
“In an environment completely disturbed and transformed over the centuries, in which we develop agricultural and leisure activities, we have a relationship with the environment in which we are very involved, explains Philippe Grandcolas. There are inevitably populations of mammals that will become important or even too important. However, to evolve in uses, a social and cultural transformation is necessary. Regulation is certainly necessary, but we also need to change the way we practice it, which is not ideal. We see this with wolves: there is a deaf dialogue between all parties. 🇧🇷
This article is from our Le vert du faux section. Preconceived ideas, current issues, orders of magnitude, checking the numbers: every Thursday, we’ll answer a question chosen by Vert readers. If you want to vote on the question of the week or suggest your own ideas, you can subscribe to the newsletter right here.