“The hunters face relentless attacks”

A few days before the opening of the hunt, Gérard Aubret, president of the regional federation of hunters of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, talks about the various challenges facing the hunting world.

The opening of the hunt is approaching after an exceptional heat wave. How do you learn it?

Geraldo Aubret: The main concern is whether we can have hunting opportunities for large animals that have suffered from the drought and heat wave. Technicians are currently scouting in the field. In addition to the sectors affected by the fires where hunting will not take place, we have no concerns at the moment with the general state of the fauna in the post-drought and heat wave period. In addition, it should be noted that in our region, hunters have made great efforts in terms of watering the animals. Some have even recreated artificial lakes or made forage. »

What other concerns catch your attention?

GA: We have a significant mortality of deer, which affects the departments of Ardèche, Loire and Haute-Loire. This had already happened last year, but at a lower level. We are going to collect animal samples and approach the regional federation of Brittany who had the same problem a few years ago. Breton hunters discovered that the deer were infected with a virus that lodged in the tongue and prevented them from eating. After analysis, we will be able to know if it is the same pathology. »

Compensation for damage caused by wild boar is also an important issue. Is today?

GA: Last March, the former Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, informed us that, as part of the resilience plan, the State would cover, as of July, the additional cost of damage arising from the increase in grain costs. At the same time, we have been fighting for the payment of costs to stop being the exclusive prerogative of hunting federations. As of August 24, we have not received any response from the government. Some hunting federations are in the red. In order not to harm them, we will no longer pay any compensation as of January 1, 2023. This action is in no way directed against the agricultural world, it is just a means of putting pressure on the State to fulfill its commitments. »

How is the increase in subsidies granted to hunting federations justified?

GA: At the regional level, we have an agreement on multi-annual objectives since 2016. The Region has committed, through the actions carried out by the hunters, to financially support them in the amount of 3.5 million euros over three years. At the same time, at the national level, the State agreed, as part of the hunting reform, to support us in a file called “eco-contribution” in which grants are paid to federations for actions related to biodiversity (creation of drinking fountains for swallows, restoration de lagos, editor’s note) up to 6.3 million euros. »

You are in charge of the wolf file at the national federation. How do you see predation?

GA: We want the state to recognize that the wolf population is four to five times higher than advertised and allow hunting quotas accordingly. These shots must be made by the hunters. We should stop telling breeders or herders to post at night or buy dogs. The wolf must become a species that can be hunted, in the same way as the chamois, mouflon or deer, with reasonable quotas, to reduce the pressure on French breeding. »

In what context will the new hunting season begin?

GA: Hunters face incessant attacks that become unbearable, with degraded hunting facilities, hacked watchtowers, degrading political discourse… We are no longer an environmental problem of biodiversity, but a political problem. It’s an orderly attack on the hunting world. I fear that some people hang up their weapons out of fatigue, and yet I maintain that hunting is a hobby. Like any hobby, we want to do it in a serene and friendly environment. However, today, as vice president of the national federation, I am very concerned. I fear excesses when we see the actions that are regularly carried out against the hunting world. »

Interview by Amandine Priolet

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