The 29-year-old victim, named in local media as Elisa Pilarski, was taking her own dog for a walk in the Forest of Retz in the Hauts-de-France region when she was killed on Saturday afternoon.
She died of bleeding from “several dog bites in the upper and lower limbs and in the head,” said Frederic Trinh, prosecutor for the nearby town of Soissons, following an autopsy on Monday.
Pilaski, who was reportedly six months pregnant, was found by her partner on a forest trail near Saint-Pierre Aigle. He had left work to find her after she called him to say there were “threatening dogs” in the area, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Investigations are underway to establish which dogs were responsible for the attack. Samples have been taken from 93 dogs, including hounds taking part in the hunt and Pilaski’s own pets.
According to local newspaper L’Union, the pack of hounds had been taking part in a weekly hunt for deer.
A spokeswoman for the hunt, Angela van den Berghe, confirmed it was taking place at the time but told the publication: “To our knowledge, the tragic accident that occurred has no relation neither with our dogs, nor with the hunt with hounds.”
“She was undressed entirely,” he said. “She was devoured everywhere.”
The actor Brigitte Bardot, who is president of an animal welfare foundation, said she was shocked by the death and had written to France’s minister for ecological transition urging her to immediately suspend “all hunt authorisation for this season”.
There are more than 30,000 hunting dogs in France, according to the country’s hunting association, which said the hounds were “trained to hunt a particular animal and obey man in all circumstances”.