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Guide to hunting in France

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 December 2014

Hunting in France © istockphoto

Hunting in France © istockphoto

Hemeroskopion - Fotolia

Hunting is a popular pastime in rural France, but if you are planning to go out hunting make sure you know all the rules and have the correct licences

Hunting in France © FotoliaHunting in France © Fotolia

France has the largest number of hunters in Europe, with close to 1.5 million registered to practise the sport, and unlike hunting in the UK, which is more prevalent among the upper classes and landowners, hunting in France is dominated by the working classes and pensioners, according to the Pinet study commissioned by the FNC. the last two decades have seen a growing number of professionals and directors coming on board, however, as well as an increase in female participation, although it still remains a predominantly male sport.

There are several different types of hunting in France, from collective to solo, from wild boar to pheasant, but every hunter must have a valid licence obtained by passing an exam. For UK tourists, a valid UK hunting permit is accepted but should be validated for use in France by the relevant regional branch of the FNc. However, for UK nationals resident in France, you must have a valid French licence and must therefore take the French exam.

Licence exam

The exam is set and organised by the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS) in conjunction with the FNC. You need to register with the FNC, attend a mandatory preparatory course, and pass the exam to get a licence. the good news is that the licence is valid for life, unless rescinded for careless practice or health problems.

When registering for the exam, you are asked to provide proof of identity, two passport-sized photographs, a sample signature, a recent medical certificate, and a sworn statement that there is no legal impediment to you using a gun. there is an exam fee of €16 and a €30 cost for the licence.

Hunting rights

The licence qualifies you to hunt in France, but you still need to register with your local hunting club or local federation before each season to validate the licence and pay the annual subscription fees. Fees range from around €160 for a departmental subscription to hunt small game up to around €415 for a national subscription to hunt large game. You can also buy nine-day and three-day permits for approximately €100 and €50 respectively.

Most people opt for the departmental subscription, which is generally valid only for the local municipality in which they live. With this, however, you can apply to the association de chasse in a neighbouring or other municipality requesting an invitation to join their hunt or to hunt on their territory.

For keen hunters and those with deeper pockets, there is the option of the national licence for nationwide access.

Anyone hunting in France must carry the following documents with them at all times:

1. Your permanent hunting licence (plus

relevant validation form if a UK tourist)

2. The validation of your permit for the current season and/or territory

3. A civil liability insurance certificate.

Additionally, UK tourists hunting in France are advised to ensure they have their European Firearms pass and up-to-date European pet passport if hunting with their own dog.

Sustainable development and biodiversity

Hunting bodies strongly promote their role as countryside custodians. in close contact with the environment and the farming community, they claim hunters observe and report changing environmental trends, and act as a natural control of certain species while helping to protect potentially endangered species. All hunters are asked to keep a carnet de prélèvement universel listing their kills to monitor and sustain species numbers.

The national and regional federations liaise with environment protection agencies and maintain a dialogue with the Ministre de l’Écologie, du Développement Durable et de l’Énergie, currently Ségolène Royal.

When hunting in France, be sure to contact the local or regional FNcbranch or the local mairieto check if there are any hunting bans and the exact dates of the hunting season for different species – any breaches could result in serious legal action.

Safety rules

With tighter regulation and training campaigns, the sport has improved its safety record in recent years. The 2013-14 season saw the best figures for the past 15 years, with 114 reported accidents and 16 fatalities, including two non-hunters. hunters must wear high-visibility vests, put in place clear signs that they are hunting in the area, and follow established safety guidelines to maximise security for themselves and for non-hunters using the countryside. Even so, there is still some unease among the general public that some hunters are not as careful as they should be and it always pays to be vocal if you find yourself walking in or close to hunting territory.

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