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France to ban hunting under the influence of alcohol

France to ban hunting under the influence of alcohol

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The French government is looking to prohibit hunting under the influence of alcohol or drugs, France junior minister for Ecology Bérangère Couillard announced Monday after months of fierce debate over hunting regulation.

A new fine will be created by government decree “in early 2023” to sanction “the act of hunting under the excessive influence of alcohol,” as part of a wider government plan on hunting, Couillard said in a speech in the rural Loiret département.

According to a French Senate report, 9 percent of hunters involved in a severe accident test positive for alcohol or drugs.

In spite of mounting pressure from the public, environmental associations and parties over the rise of hunting-related accidents, the French government ruled against more stringent proposals, such as an outright hunting ban for one day on weekends.

Such a measure was backed by close to 80 percent of the French public, according to a recent Ifop poll.

The proposition caused outcry in hunter ranks. Last week, France national hunting federation President Willy Schraen told Franceinfo it would “set rurality on fire” in less than five years.

“We don’t want to create controversy or one more dividing line,” a French government adviser told POLITICO’s Paris Playbook on Sunday night, as an upcoming pension reform is already promising to fuel discontent.

“The objective I deeply believe in is that of moving toward zero accidents,” Couillard said. “We are looking for enhanced safety seven days a week.”

The new plan also includes an app mapping out hunting areas and allowing people to “identify hunting-free areas and times” close to their location, which should be available in the fall. Hunters will have to report group events in the app.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has moved toward a friendlier position toward hunters since the end of his first mandate, had been facing pressure to implement stricter hunting rules, as rising numbers of accidents involving non-hunters raised concerns about the safety of bystanders in French rural areas.

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