The prefecture plans to anticipate the opening due to the damage caused to crops. Aspas is against and encourages citizens to participate in a consultation on the subject, until May 7.
Since 2020, the opening of wild boar hunting has been brought forward from September 11 to June 1 in the Hérault. This early opening is framed “the prevention of damage to agricultural crops”, especially maize. But the fox and the brocade (male roe deer) are also affected by this early hunting.
For the year 2022, “the principle of early opening was voted unanimously with one abstention”says Adrien Bonafé, vice-president of the Hérault Hunting Federation.
An advisory opinion only
This opinion is subject to public consultation from April 16 to May 7, 2022. Last year, the 244 contributions were all against this early opening. They highlighted the desire to have a hunting-free summer, the disturbance caused to the reproduction of species, and the “feeling of insecurity” felt by other users of nature.
But these opinions being only advisory, the prefect had validated the opening on June 1. This was already the case after the 2020 consultation, where 361 of the 364 contributions were already against it. The decree also includes an early opening on September 1 for mouflons and deer.
“We are breaking the balance of biodiversity”
Aspas (Association for the protection of wild animals) “encourages all Hérault residents to participate in this consultation, even if it is not binding.”
“We all agree to recognize that there is a proliferation of wild boarsexplains Christian Perrenot, of the Aspas 34 delegation. But it is primarily because they are fed all winter and watered. Feeding wildlife is, however, a prohibited practice, and breeding is highly regulated.
And to continue: “When we want to eliminate the natural predators of wild boars, such as wolves and lynxes which nevertheless return to the department, we also break the balance of biodiversity.”
“17,000 wild boars taken”
The Hérault departmental hunting management plan 2019-2025, subtitled “or how hunters work for biodiversity and sustainable hunting”, is developed by the Federation of Hunters. We learn that the crop most affected by the damage is the vine, with an average of 64% of the annual amount.
Fences are provided free of charge to farmers (971 deliveries in 2017), as well as scaring equipment. The deterrent gearing, on the other hand, is “strictly regulated”according to the Federation, which has not subsidized it since 2018.
19,300 hunts resulted in 17,000 “Specimens” wild boar in the department (in 2017-2018). As for big game, an average of 3,000 deer suffer the same fate each year, as well as 150 stags and 500 mouflons.
“An incoherent decree concerning foxes”
Regarding foxes, “The decree is inconsistent. In the municipalities of Hérault where rabbits cause the most damage to crops, such as Mauguio or Mudaison, foxes are considered to be auxiliaries by farmers. If it is hunted so much, it is because the fox eats the game released for the hunt!”
With regard to roe deer, Aspas observes “that it is not always easy to distinguish males from females, knowing that only the former can be hunted.” And to remember that whatever the species, “there are many young people in June”.
In conclusion, the Aspas “deplores the fact that hunters, who represent only 2% of the population, can indulge their passion for ten months, knowing that it is a hobby incompatible with outdoor activities. A large majority of citizens are in favor of banning hunting on Sunday.”
Max Alliès, president of the Hunting Federation 34: “Ten months is very long”
Is it necessary to anticipate wild boar hunting?
Yes, because there is strong pressure from farmers, given the significant damage they suffer. It is not a pleasure to hunt in the summer, when it is very hot, but it is a necessity. We have set up a monitoring unit at Federation level to respond to requests following crop damage. We manage to control the compensation (€170,000 per year) but it is thanks to a permanent effort. The opening of the hunt on June 1 will probably be renewed, but for us, the real opening remains in mid-September. Because ten months is really a very long time.
Are there more sensitive areas?
There is an explosion of population in the plain and on the coast. In one year, in the town of Béziers, 70 wild boars were taken! In Saint-Jean-de-Védas, there are plenty of them. Everywhere, it poses a real security problem. I remind you that you cannot hunt on more than 30% of the Hérault territory, especially in urban areas and in nature reserves. The wild boar takes advantage of this to develop there.
And the deer?
He colonized the plain and the coast from the high townships. It disrupts the hunt for wild boar and hare. And above all, it causes damage to trees by attacking young shoots.