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OPINION: "France ought to get robust with the hunters … however in all probability won’t."

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I used to be sitting in my backyard in Calvados the opposite day considering the fantastic coexistence of this yr between the autumn leaves and the summer time flowers. Bang !! A bathe of lead pellets handed a couple of meters behind my head, slicing the leaves of the apple bushes.

My neighbor of 80 years was by chance harassing me once more. In response to the regulation, you might be prohibited from firing your weapon inside 150 meters of a home or a highway. He breaks the regulation virtually each Sunday between September and February.

I’ve complained politely up to now. Different neighbors have complained. He shrugs and insists that he’s very cautious and that he has not killed anybody but. It by no means appears to hit a golden chicken, which isn’t significantly reassuring.

Nobody within the village worries about submitting an official grievance with the gendarmerie. He’s the primary assistant mayor of the commune, a person of some native energy.

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Picture: AFP

In different elements of France, the autumn has additionally began with an outbreak, and a collection of predictable tragedies. 5 folks have been killed for the reason that final season. The sufferer features a 34-year-old British chef, Marc Sutton, killed by a younger inexperienced hunter whereas driving his mountain bike on an official observe in Haute Savoie.

Final weekend, a hunter was killed within the Meuse; One other off-road bicycle owner was injured in Ariège; and two surfers complained that they had been attacked by pheasant shooters on the coast of Finistere, in Brittany.

Searching accidents have been reducing in France lately. "Solely" 13 folks misplaced their lives within the six months of the 2017-18 looking season, in comparison with 18 the earlier yr and a mean of 20 for the reason that flip of the century. Many of the victims are different hunters.

France stays, nevertheless, probably the most harmful place in Western Europe. The butchery of this yr's early season is being defined by Indian Summer season, which has taken extra folks to the hills and forests.

What could be accomplished? A number of issues

What shall be accomplished? Not a lot, if the expertise of my 22 years in France is one thing to cross.

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& # 39; It's like the wild west & # 39 ;: stories of life in rural France during the hunting season

Greater than 80 p.c of French folks in a current ballot mentioned they assist the ban on looking on Sundays. A petition to President Immanuel Macron calling for a banquet launched by the wildlife safety group ASPAS (the Affiliation for the Safety of Wild Animals) has attracted greater than 185,000 signatures.

There isn’t any motive to anticipate motion quickly. The looking foyer, though it represents solely two p.c of the inhabitants, could be very highly effective in France. Alain Péréa, deputy of Macron, provoked fury per week in the past when he prompt that the way in which to guard cyclists from being shot useless on forest tracks.

The administration of Macron, though supposedly "metropolitan" and out of contact with Deep Franceit's surprisinglylooking. In August, the federal government stopped the annual payment for a nationwide looking license to € 200, with none new restriction of the hunters. This is without doubt one of the explanation why France favors the inexperienced guru, Nicolas Hulot, who resigned final month.

Macron can consider that that is the way in which to the agricultural coronary heart. He's incorrect In response to my expertise within the hills of Calvados, 32 kilometers south of Caen, actual farmers hardly ever hunt. My neighbor, proud of arms, is the exception, reasonably than the rule.

A current nationwide survey confirmed my suspicions. One third of the 1.2 million hunters within the nation are executives or members of the professions. Lower than one in ten are farmers or agricultural staff.

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Picture: AFP

The hunters that for my frequent weekends come from the suburbs of the large cities. They’re like an invading militia, wearing jackets and camouflage pants, lined by the security vests of the times required by regulation.

I’m not in opposition to looking, however I’ve come to concern and displease these folks. They’re aggressive with the walkers to say: "as a substitute of you, that I. We now have weapons, we will do no matter we wish".

I'm not alone My 70-year-old neighbor, Madeleine, says: "I hate them, I hate them." I by no means really feel secure when they’re round. "

So, what could possibly be accomplished? Prohibition of looking on Sundays a very long time in the past. France is the one nation in Western Europe the place seven days per week is allowed.

The prevailing guidelines should be utilized extra rigorously, together with the principles on not firing or carrying loaded weapons close to houses or roads.

There needs to be stricter guidelines on security coaching for hunters, not solely new recruits, but additionally these older than 50 who make up the vast majority of a time of passage that slowly decreases.

There must also be guidelines in opposition to alcohol consumption throughout looking and random blood alcohol checks by the gendarmerie.

Will any of this occur quickly? I doubt it

John Lichfield is a correspondent in France and a international editor of The Impartial newspaper. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @john_lichfield


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