the senatorial mission proposes a reinforced dialogue with users and elected officials

Anne Lenormand / Localtis

The Senate mission to ensure hunting, created after a petition following a fatal accident, published its report on Sept. 14. She speaks out against the national introduction of no-hunting days, advocating measures to promote hunter/non-hunter “cohabitation”. Several of these provisions are of great interest to communities.

After meeting more than 170 people during nearly 48 hours of hearings and undertaking five field trips, the Senate mission to ensure hunting published its report on Sept. 14. This joint follow-up mission to the Economic and Legal Affairs Commissions was created last November, after a petition on the High Assembly’s website gathered more than 120,000 signatures. It had been released by the collective “Un jour un chasseur”, created after the death of a 25-year-old who was killed in front of his house in the Lot by a hunting shot. In particular, it called for the establishment of “hunting-free Sundays and Wednesdays” or even “protective distances around residential areas that are equal to maximum gun range”, a maximum blood alcohol level for hunters (there are currently no limit, but alcohol consumption can be an aggravating circumstance in case of prosecution after an accident) or even an increase in the age for having a hunting license, currently set at 16 years.

Accidents “in sharp decline” 20 years ago…

According to the figures presented in the Senate report, extracted from data from the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) and the latest 2020 National Institute of Health Surveillance (INVS) report, hunting-related accidents are “in a sharp decline”. and marginal in accidentology in France”. In the last 20 years, the number of hunting accidents has dropped by 46% and the number of deaths by 74%. Big game kills increased 75%, 55% of accidents occurred during a big game hunt (boar, deer or deer). For the 2021/22 season, “the OFB recorded a total of 90 hunting accidents (bodily injuries linked to the use of hunting weapons), including eight fatalities. hunters”.

According to the INVS data cited in the report, hunting accounts for 4% of sports-related traumatic accidents, ten times less than mountain sports. On the road, collisions with wild animals cause more victims than hunting itself. The proportion of alcohol-related accidents is also lower in hunting (9%) than on the road (13 to 28%, depending on circumstances). “However, each accident is one more accident and hunting accidents have two specificities: the use of a firearm and the fact that 12% of the victims are not hunters, emphasize the senators. of serious faults that violate basic safety rules.” Added to this are about a hundred incidents a year, that is, shootings against vehicles or houses, which could have dramatic consequences, and shootings against domestic animals or livestock.

Citing the Interior and Justice Ministries, the report also underlines that hunting accidents are systematically prosecuted and punished as homicides or involuntary injuries. “The criminal response rate is 90 to 95%. There is no evidence to support a complaint refusal phenomenon, and it is possible to file a complaint at any police department or police station, directly with the Public Ministry or online. (pre-complaint)”, he says.

…but security needs to be beefed up

Despite the already reinforced legislation – since 2019, in particular, the law has imposed safety rules for directed hunting (fluorescent vest, information panels), made ten-year safety training mandatory, reinforced the OFB’s competences and created a national dossier of hunting license – the mission believes that hunters still need to make progress in this area. “This is a matter of credibility and trust in relation to non-hunters, but it is also an expectation of the hunters themselves, who are nine times out of ten victims of accidents, he insists. Of course, zero risk does not exist, but that should not preclude the adoption of zero accidents as a goal. Safety must be part of the hunter’s culture.” Among its 30 proposals are the first measures to reinforce training, without increasing the age for obtaining the license, but through the “generalization of mentoring”, or the mandatory approval of a first aid certificate and a medical examination. Yearly. It also proposes “prohibiting alcohol and the use of narcotics during hunting” and “aligning the level of blood alcohol withheld, the prohibition of narcotics as well as the respective sanctions with the rules in force under the Highway Code”.

According to the mission, “accidents result from poorly controlled shooting and insufficient consideration of the environment.” Instead of establishing safety distances around houses or roads that, in her opinion, would lead to “the ban on hunting in much of France and pose regulatory problems when creating areas of refuge”, she recommends “acting upstream and carrying out audits territory security to better determine when, where and how to hunt.” These audits would be carried out at departmental and local level.

With regard to safety during hunting, it proposes harmonizing, “if necessary by law”, the safety rules contained in the departmental hunting management plans (SDGC) drawn up by hunters’ federations, as it states that “certain fundamental rules are not appear there or in the form of recommendations, which prevents the OFB from sanctioning non-compliance or even leading to the cancellation of a sanction. It also advocates the development of high firing points “to guarantee a sticky shot” and proposes that the theft or sabotage of such devices is punished more seriously.

Mandatory big game declaration

Another recommendation: mandatory reporting of large game units. “The law requires them to be signposted, but other nature users become aware of them too late or risk being there before signs are placed,” notes the mission, which also argues that elected officials also ask to know where hunt in your county. Experiences that have already been successfully carried out encourage you, therefore, to offer a “prior and systematic declaration of drives, in particular via mobile applications”. In return, mayors could issue orders more frequently banning hunting grounds when security warrants. On the other hand, “to prevent these statements from being used to obstruct hunting”, the mission defends the creation of a “crime of obstruction to the practice of legal sporting or leisure activities”, an allegation made by the hunters against the militants seeking, in particular, , avoid hunting with dogs.

In terms of hunting police, it wants to increase the role of the mayor in the development of the SDGC and allow him to limit hunting days and hours to ensure people’s safety. It is also proposed to reinforce the staff and legal resources of the OFB, but also to strengthen the skills or resources of other actors. The mission thus aims to empower municipal police in hunting matters and clarify the prerogatives of development agents in federations and private guards.

No Nationally Established No Hunting Day

As far as relationships with other users of nature are concerned, the mission intends “to advocate cohabitation rather than sharing”. “Introducing one or more days without hunting should guarantee peace of mind for other users (…). actors are opposed, fearing a ‘salami’ of nature and the exacerbation of the conflicts that they are already witnessing”, he believes. they often exercise this leisure on their property or against a rent and that they must regulate hunting for which they only pay the damage”, he adds. So many reasons that led it not to adopt “a uniform national rule”, while saying to herself “convinced that local demands must be heard”. He therefore defends “a framework for dialogue so that adequate solutions can be found”, hunting cannot “be practiced under the same conditions on the outskirts of metropolises and in sparsely populated areas”.

Dialog tools to create

Ultimately, the mission recommends creating dialogue tools. To objectify and deal with incidents and conflicts of use around hunting, it proposes that the OFB create a fact-gathering platform to have a global and objective view. It also recommends “expanding” the letters that the National Federation of Hunters (FNC) and departmental federations (FDC) have already signed for better dialogue with other users of nature. According to the mission, FDCs could also be members of the mixed unions of regional natural parks (PNR) and departmental commissions for spaces, sites and routes (CDESI). As for the Ministry of Sport, it could integrate hunters into the Suricate network to report incidents and pollution in nature, as they are site managers and already play the role of environmental sentinels in other areas.

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