Do you know what penned hunting is? Our investigators were able to go behind the scenes. This very specific pastime consists in the serial killing of all sorts of animal that have no chance to escape. Trigger-happy hunters gather for the occasion on private property surrounded by fences and, in unison, strafe the wildlife caught in the trap.
On these properties everything is designed to guarantee the hunters a maximum of ‘trophies’. Concentrated on a few hectares, their prey have no alternative but to attempt in vain to flee and take their last breath backed up against a wall or wire fence more than two metres high. ASPAS was the first association to denounce this system. Amongst the main victims are ‘fur’, one of the terms used by the ONCFS (Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage – National Office of Hunting and Wildlife), in other words those that can’t fly: rabbits, hares, does, red deer, fallow deer, mouflon, inter alia. And of course wild boar! You know, those public enemies number one that apparently destroy crops. For those fond of penned hunting there are never enough. They are even willing to spend astronomic amounts of money to feel the thrill of massacring them by any means possible: rifle, spear, pack of starving dogs …
Masters of their domain
Therefore anyone lucky enough to own a dwelling with a fully enclosed piece of land attached to it may, if in possession of a hunting permit and the required insurance, shoot anything that moves on it. For such people there are no quotas, no hunting plan nor hunting season to comply with for fur animals and no limit on feeding. They do whatever they want without breaking any rules! In law, mammals in an enclosure are deemed to be ‘res propria‘: ‘things belonging to a person‘. And if those persons want to kill them, they can go right ahead! They may even invite as many friends as they like to join in the carnage provided they too have valid permits. Destroying the wildlife is not a problem: the breeders are there to top it up. A simple prefectoral order, here for example, is sufficient to obtain the release of deer, rabbits, pheasants, ducks and partridges reared in captivity that will be used as the next targets.
It's only one step from enclosures to enclosed hunting estates
Obviously one could reassure oneself by thinking that this type of practice is merely anecdotal. You don’t have to own a grand country house or even a house with a large piece of land attached to it: the law also caters for ‘poor’ hunters who own ‘only’ a small piece of land. They may, if they fence it properly, turn it into a ‘hunting enclosure’. There are no exemptions for them and they are subject, as are EPCCs (see box), to the opening and closing dates laid down in the regulations. In theory. Because how is it possible to monitor what really happens behind those walls, which are too high for anyone to climb over? In the opinion of Jean-Noël Rieffel, Regional Manager of the French Office for Biodiversity in Centre-Val de Loire, quoted in the newspaper La Montagne: “The right of the inspectors of the French Office for Biodiversity to enter hunting enclosures remains limited.” A very interesting, albeit not exhaustive, register gives details of almost 150 enclosures and hunting estates in France, thus providing some idea of how many there are. And how many corpses are there still to go? Please sign our petition!
Death can lead to big rewards
Many have smelled the money and are managing hunting enclosures for a living. In this case they are deemed to be EPCCs (établissements à caractère commercial en terrain clos – establishments of a commercial nature on enclosed land) and therefore can no longer claim exemption from regulatory hunting seasons. On the other hand, since the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) was set up, amending the missions of the federations of hunters and strengthening environmental policy, they have had the ‘privilege’ of being allowed to release wild boar, which is prohibited in non-commercial hunting enclosures.
The only constraint on these structures is not to exceed more than one hoofed animal per hectare, otherwise ‘the enclosure’ would no longer be an ‘enclosure’, legally speaking, and would be deemed to be a livestock farm. Hunting is prohibited on farms because it is deemed to be an ‘act of cruelty’. Thus, in the eyes of the law, the concept of ‘cruelty’ is measured in figures: the area of the piece of land and the number of animals on it. Never mind the wire fences, the wildlife shut up behind them, the bloodbath of victims. No doubt these are merely ‘details’.