Tribute to victims of hunting accidents as French Senate begins inquiry

·3-min read

A march was held in the southwestern French town of Cajarc on Saturday in memory of Morgan Keane, a 25 year-old who was killed by a hunter only 100 metres from his home. A petition, calling for better regulation of hunting in France has since prompted the Senate to establish a special commission.

Every time she hears a shot, Elodie Le Frixon remembers an incident four years ago, when a bullet fired by a hunter went through her kitchen window and almost hit her companion.

In a separate incident, earlier this year, a driver on a motorway died from injuries after being shot by a hunter in Brittany.

Hunting-related incidents like this – in which non-hunters have been injured or killed by hunters' bullets – are mobilising people to improve gun regulations.

To combat these accidents, a petition called "Deaths, violence and abuse linked to hunting: never again" was set up on the French Senate's website, calling for action on hunting regulation. It had gathered 122,484 signatures as of 30 November.

Hunters cry foul on calls for restrictions

The petition was organised by the friends of Morgan Keane, a 25-year-old man killed a year ago by a hunter's shot while cutting wood in his garden.

According to Lea Jaillard, who co-organised the petition, "Morgan could be you, your brother, your parents, anyone".

Family and friends gathered on Saturday for a march in Keane's memory and to raise awareness.

Yannick Jadot, France's Green presidential candidate in upcoming 2022 elections, has also proposed a ban on hunting at weekends and school holidays to reduce the risks to joggers and hikers.

But these initiatives have provoked outcry from hunting enthusiasts, who consider gun sports to be an integral part of French tradition.

Willy Schraen, president of the National Federation of Hunters, has called the move to ban hunting at certain times of the week "really stupid".

For advocates of gun sports, weekends are the only time they can hunt, and any restrictions would constitute an infringement on personal freedom.

According to figures announced by the government branch in charge of Biodiversity, hunting accidents dropped slightly in the 2020/21 season with 80 accidents, seven of them deadly (six hunters and one non hunter), compared to 141 accidents in 2019/20 season with 11 deaths, including one non hunter.

Since the start of the 2021/22 season, there have been 42 accidents, including three deaths.

Special commission

Meanwhile, a special commission made up of 19 members of the Senate from different political backgrounds has been established. It will begin its work next Tuesday by auditioning Mila Faustine Béatrice Sanchez, who launched the petition.

The committee will look into safety issues, the validation of hunting permits, the conditions for obtaining arms, shared use of outdoor spaces, the punishment for infringement of rules and the handling of victims' complaints.

On 20 December, the commission will witness first hand a wild boar hunt in the Ain department.

Their report on the regulation of hunting is expected by the middle of next year.

In the meantime, the government has created a website with a calendar of the hunting season in a bid to improve public awareness of forest activities over the winter period.

(with wires)