As the trial of two hunters for “manslaughter” against Morgan Keane, a 25-year-old man killed in his garden in 2020, opens this Thursday, Green considering the need, or not, to use hunting to regulate wild species.
What animals are hunted in France?
In France, 22 million animals are killed every year and 90 species can be hunted. According to hunting tables compiled by the French Office for Biodiversity from hunters’ statements and surveys, the number of large mammals hunted has increased dramatically in recent decades. 69,876 red deer were killed in 2020 compared to 5,395 in 1973, ie 13 times more; 581,325 deer in 2020 compared to 51,010 in 1973, 10 times more. But it was wild boar hunting that really exploded with 801,375 individuals killed in 2020 compared to 35,893 in 1973, meaning 22 times more. A flight also involving chamois, mouflon, chamois and fallow deer, all authorized big game.
However, the birds paid the heaviest price in France. They will represent 80% of the catches for the 2013-2014 season, according to the latest available figures established by the OFB. According to the League for the Protection of Birds, France holds the European record for the number of bird species hunted: 64. Of these, 20 are endangered. For example, the capercaillie is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which forms the red list of threatened species.
Do animals represent a threat, do they cause “harm”?
” The majority of animals killed by hunting, about 90 or 95% do not need to be regulated”, biologist Pierre Rigaux details Green. A figure he himself got from the hunting boards. This is particularly the case of farm animals, which are released to serve as targets for shooting. The Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (Aspas) estimates that, every year, 10 to 15 million pheasants are released in France.
The main causes of damage to fields are wild boars when deer and roe deer attack forests – by eating young branches of trees. Wild animal populations that, in both cases, have increased dramatically in recent decades. Among the many reasons for this increase, a 2019 parliamentary report cited “the interest shown by hunters in big game, following the lack of small simple game, which encourages them to adopt management aimed at preserving populations”,” the practice of dissuasive feeding, which has been changed in some regions to year-round feeding”. The report also notes the development of maize monocultures and the increase in food availability linked to climate change. On the deer side, the report acknowledges “hunters’ interest in taking large adult bucks in pursuit of trophies, and conversely their reluctance to shoot young and females” ; “a relative disdain for roe deer, except in some regions that are very prone to shooting brocade in the approach, leading to harvests that are lower than the potential of the populations present”.
” My hypothesis is that there is a problem with the control strategysays Philippe Grandcolas, ecologist and director of research at the CNRS. A living species has an age structure and a social structure. Hunters like older bucks that are bigger. But by killing them, they give breeding access to the boys, so they increase the populations. This is a general rule for wolves, badgers. Moreover, when certain areas are empty of badgers, adjacent populations come to fill these areas.. Finally, some animals have been criticized for being reservoirs of disease such as the badger with tuberculosis that spreads and disseminates infectious agents. »
For animals once called “pests”, one might wonder about the relevance of hunting as a regulatory practice. ” Every year, we destroy the number of these foxes and it is useless because the fox is opportunistic and the females regulate their fertility in the presence of the environment. It is also known that in the year when there are no hares, female lynxes do not give birth. And in years when there are many voles, there are many weasels. Prey controls predators, not the other way around », Details Marc Giraud, from Aspas.
Besides the spread of diseases and the potential rebound effects of damage to crops, other adverse effects should be noted. Hunting continues to kill people: eight people died during the 2021-2022 season in France, and 90 accidents were counted. In addition, 14,000 tons of lead goes into nature in Europe every year, according to the European Chemicals Agency.
Can we imagine the end of regulation for all that?
Hunting and regulation are not synonymous. In the canton of Geneva, Switzerland, hunting was banned in 1974, following a popular vote. However, the regulation was not abandoned. The canton indicates that “If necessary, professional control shots carried out by environmental guards are carried out using modern equipment, to cause less stress and suffering to the animal. Geneva’s assessment of the elimination of hunting proves positive to effective management of wildlife well adapted to the context of the canton and its population..
“In an environment that has been completely disturbed and changed for centuries, in which we carry out agricultural and recreational activities, we have a relationship with the environment in which we are deeply involved, explained Philippe Grandcolas. There are inevitable populations of mammals that will become important or even very important. However, in order to progress in utility, social and cultural change is necessary. Regulation is undoubtedly needed, but we also need to change the way in which we carry it out, which is not optimal. We see this with wolves: there is a dialogue of the deaf between all parties. »
This article is from our Le vert du faux section. Early ideas, topical questions, orders of magnitude, checking numbers: every Thursday, we answer a question chosen by Vert readers. If you want to vote for the question of the week or suggest your own ideas, you can subscribe to the newsletter right here.