Obstruction of hunting is now an offence in France. A new measure passed on 11 April 2019 by the French Senate says that hindering or preventing a hunting party now leads to one year in prison and a 30,000 euro fine. Before this law, police issued tickets to offenders.
For the past year, French hunts have used ‘marcheurs’ who wear high-visibility vests and monitor the hunt saboteurs, making sure that when they commit crimes they are charged.
“Hunting is a legal activity and therefore it is normal for hunters to be able to practice this activity in complete tranquillity,” says Nicholas Rivet of the French Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs, which represents the 1.2 million people who hold a hunting license in France. “There are physical assaults. There are people in the hunt that are thrown off their horses and even assaults on dogs. The passage of the contravention to the crime should see an end put to these acts.”
The new law follows a series of laws designed to help hunters. From January 2020, the French ministry of biodiversity will merge with the national office of hunting and wildlife to become the ministry of biodiversity and hunting. And the cost of a French hunting licence recently halved from 400 euros to 200 euros.
It also follows a tough season for hunters. In an interview with Fieldsports News, Pierre de Boisguilbert, secretary-general of the French organisation for hunting with hounds, the Société de Vénerie, says he is glad it’s over.
The French ‘yellow vest’ activist movement, the Gilets Jaunes, are anti-hunting and anti the French president Emmanuel Macron, whom they see as the instigator of these measures.
Now, hunters in other European countries, who suffer from masked hunt saboteurs carrying baseball bats trying to disrupt their activities, are calling on their governments to enact the same law.