On Thursday, 2 July 2020, Eric Turquin, Head of the French Delegation of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), reacted to a written opinion piece signed by 64 elected officials opposed to traditional hunting.
The principal reasoning for their opposition and call to end such hunting was that it is “traditional” and belongs to the “ancient world“. In an open letter published in the journal “Valeurs Actuelles” [Today’s Values], Mr. Turquin reminds readers that parliamentarians are not elected by animals but by men and women.
The letter is addressed to the attention of Loïc Dombreval, President of the “animal condition” study group, whose original letter can be accessed here (in French).
The original response from Mr. Turquin can be found here (in French), with the English translation available below.
Allow me, on behalf of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, which I represent, to react to your open letter “The France of the future must put an end to traditional hunting”.
Above all, as citizens, we are concerned by the phrase “The France of the future” as if the world of tomorrow did not have its roots in the one before it. The utopias of “the new world” and “new men” have given rise to experiences in the 20th century that many regret.
You are right to be concerned about the decrease in the number of hunters, which has fallen from 2.5 million [in the 1970s] to 1.2 million today, which is causing great disorder since the populations of certain animals that have no predators, other than humans, are exploding. Examples include the wild boars of the South of France, wood pigeons or the jackdaws that are ravaging crops in Brittany today.
You tell us that traditional hunts have “strong negative connotations” and that they have become “politically indefensible”, but shouldn’t we, precisely, count on the courage of our politicians to fight against the absence of culture and the lack of knowledge of the past, or of the nature itself?
Do you really think it is legitimate to prohibit pygmies from hunting their antelopes, Inuit from hunting their seals and hunters in the Pyrenees from catching wood pigeons with their nets?
Don’t you think it would be more constructive to rely on these traditional hunters who, believe me, are very concerned about protecting the species they’ve been observing for so long?
You are, I think, wrong to despise these men of the field. Are you sure you can find replacements for them to break the ice around the wild ducks in the winter and to put out feed for animals in the snow in the high mountains?
One should also remember that hunters play an important role in maintaining the hedgerows and protecting the groves which, without their involvement, would perhaps have completely disappeared forty years ago.
Are you familiar with the Agri-fauna program to preserve partridge and lark nests, or young hare nests from damage by farm machinery and certain pesticide agents?
These struggles began in the 1980s at a time when hunters were the only ones who cared about wildlife populations and it would be great if nature lovers actually joined them rather than destroying the results of forty years of work.
Our organisation, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) could, more broadly speaking, help you with its practical experience and expertise from the field which would allow the infamous “field staff” to share their knowledge in protecting the natural world, the disappearance of which represents a much graver threat than the minimal harvest levels from these infamous traditional hunting methods.
For 90 years, the CIC has been fighting to change hunting practices towards sustainable hunting and to put an end to any unsustainable harvesting. To my knowledge, we have not observed any excessive or unacceptable off-take in the framework of these traditional hunts that should be cause for concern. You are shocked by the digging up of badgers, but how do you seriously plan to manage their excess numbers, which cause major damage to the crops in my region, Picardy.
But perhaps farmers and foresters are also representatives of this ancient world that you would like to see disappear?
Could we not, instead, reflect together on the management of species and their environment?
The world of tomorrow is clearly a world with more people and less room for animals. All the more reason to think together beforehand about possible developments rather than throwing insults that needlessly hurt those men you will need if you really want a harmonious management of natural habitats.
Congressman, I hope that you will forgive my strong reaction and that this will be an opportunity to have a really fruitful debate for nature and its wild animals which, like you, we love.