Aude: how prefecture, agricultural world and hunters built the new decree on the shooting of wood pigeons

On March 8, 2022, the Montpellier administrative court partially suspended the prefectural decree authorizing the shooting of wood pigeons, classified as a species likely to cause damage, following an appeal by the One Voice association. The subject had led nearly a thousand farmers and hunters to demonstrate on March 27, in Narbonne. Six months later, the prefect has just signed a new decree, which renews the same shooting authorizations.

Repeat again

An argument from the Federation of Hunters, an opinion from the Departmental Commission for Hunting and Wildlife (CDCFS) delivered on June 28 and finally a consultation – dematerialized – of the public, from July 22 to August 15. As last February, the prefecture relied on three elements to set “the list of species likely to cause damage in the department of Aude and their methods of destruction”. “ESOD” including the 3e group, with a potential classification of wood pigeon, wild rabbit and wild boar, is in the hands of the prefects, unlike exogenous and native species subject to ministerial decrees

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Aude: the prefectural decree authorizing the shooting of wood pigeons partially suspended by the administrative court On September 21, the prefect Thierry Bonnier, as on February 25, 2022, made the wood pigeon the only species classified ESOD in the Aude. And renewed the same“methods of destruction”authorizing its shooting without formality from the close of hunting (February 28, 2023) to March 31, then with individual prefectural authorization from 1 er April to June 30. A measure based on the arguments of the Federation which“demonstrates that the species is widespread in the department and that it causes damage and nuisance to crops, especially outside the hunting season”


A revised copy On March 8, the administrative court of Montpellier, seized by the association One Voice, had partially suspended the decree, for the period running until March 31. A decision justified by “miscalculation” reproached “due to the absence of a sufficiently established attributable threat”the closure of hunting on March 31: the judge in chambers had thus considered that the window from February 25 to March 1 er april“does not correspond to that where high bird populations are observed in crops, nor significant damage to farms in the department, and, moreover, without distinction of the different agricultural areas of the department, in which the impact of however, varies depending on whether we are at the beginning or the end of the said period”

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Aude: after the partial suspension of wood pigeon shooting, the FDSEA denounces a “judgment from another time” A point on which the Federation of hunters has therefore worked: “A lot of work has been done with the FDSEA, the Young Farmers and the winegrowers to characterize the damage, insists Patrice Lemoine, its director. We have remodeled our arguments to be more precise and respond to the criticisms that One Voice had issued, but also the Aude and regional associations, the LPO, Aude Claire, France nature environnement and Eccla. At the heart of the debate, the weight that would weigh the two populations of wood pigeons, sedentary and migratory. With certainty asserted by the director of the Fed: “They arrive well from March, settle, reproduce, and feed both on the seedlings and on the feet, before leaving once the harvest is finished.” A point that contrasts with the argument made by One Voice in court, ironically taken from the Federation’s previous argument:

“In March, during the period of informal shooting destruction, we observe a low number of wood pigeons, they do not stagnate.”

The weight of the damage“Several hundred thousand wood pigeons pass through our department during the migration period each year” , asserts the argument of the Federation, 42 pages long, which recalls the 15,000 samples taken each year. While taking care to specify: “Its classification in ESOD, for 30 years, has never endangered its population.” And to quantify the increase in numbers observed in the spring “365% in 25 years” : “More and more birds, and more and more damage, insists Patrice Lemoine.

It reminds me of what happened with the wild boar: we were held back for a long time for its regulation, and today we are asked to go out almost every day.”

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Aude: how the pigeon triggered the mobilization to “let the rural people breathe” scheduled this Saturday in Narbonne Reference to the very heavy financial weight of the subject. Figured, for sunflower alone, at“€510,000 in Aude in 2021” with“the re-sowing of more than 1000 ha throughout the department” . And to deliver, despite unknowns on the impacted surfaces, a“minimum amount of damage which therefore amounts to €1,555,107” Between“total and partial losses” . An impact illustrated by the letter sent by Arterris to the FDSEA, recalling the financing of 50% of resowing in the event of losses linked to wood pigeons: an action which, in 2021, concerned 367 ha and 46 farmers. A support“important” specifies the cooperative:

“But that couldn’t be maintained if goshawk attacks were to increase further.”

“If there is matter for a new appeal, we will go” Patrice Lemoine has few illusions. He is waiting for a new appeal from One Voice: “These associations question everything, systematically. It’s an attitude that I don’t understand, when we are in the midst of a food crisis, when we are emerging from an episode of drought that has affected crops.” And warn: “We are waiting for them to prove to us that migrating wood pigeons do not stop in the Aude.” A subject on which the Federation has already laid the foundations, asking, during the meeting of the departmental commission for hunting and wildlife on June 28,“the communication for the next ESOD classification campaign of scientific studies which demonstrate that the wood pigeon during the migration period does not stop in the department” . Asked, the president of One Voice, Muriel Arnal, specified that the lawyer of the association was looking into the file:

“If there is material for a new appeal, we will go.”

For the 1st group, are concerned in the Aude: the American mink, the coypu, the muskrat and the Canada goose; for the 2nd group, martens, martens, red foxes, carrion crows, magpies and starlings.

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