Avian influenza: investigation into duck hunters caught red-handed

Avian influenza: investigation into duck hunters caught red-handed


Our investigation shows that wildfowlers trample over the laws that annoy them, at the risk of spreading deadly viruses. We have alerted the authorities.

What do hunters do when the law goes against them? They blatantly trample all over it. Our investigators filmed wildfowlers carrying live ducks in order to use them as decoys in the Somme even though it is dangerous and prohibited. Spreading bird flu? They just don’t care. The almost permanent special privileges that they benefit from have become an inherent part of their leisure activity, to the extent that it puts us in danger. We are lodging a complaint and are writing to Julien Denormandie and to the Prefect of the Somme department!

At the end of January our investigators went to the baie d’Authie Sud (estuary of the River Authie) and the baie de Somme. They brought back edifying images taken over only two half-days and in only two parking areas. Live birds are transported unceremoniously and quite openly in boxes and jute bags, by hunters, shotguns on shoulders, ready to use them as decoys or returning home from a night in the hide. This practice is widespread, as can be seen from the Facebook pages of the hunters’ associations in the Somme and newspaper articles on the subject.

Neither respect for the law nor common sense

Over the past few months cases of bird flu have become so common in France that hunting waterfowl, including ducks in the Somme department, has been banned. After standing up to and publicly threatening the authorities in the territory concerned, the hunters have decided to ignore the law and to defy the authorities. They have even set up an on-line appeal for funds to pay their fines and legal costs if they are challenged, which is also prohibited.

No observance of precautionary measures

They just don’t care that the law is there to protect the majority. They carry on, despite the hunting of migratory birds and others known as ‘waterfowl’ having been totally banned throughout the country in order to prevent the spread of deadly viruses that can be transmitted to humans. Moreover, although we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, none of them was seen to be complying with the precautionary measures: no masks, no social distancing.

A practice prohibited for several months in the public interest

As ascertaining the level of bird flu and the means of monitoring and preventing it have been the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture and Food since 2016, and as it was he who strengthened the preventive measures in October 2020, it is to him that we are turning to draw attention to the ban on transporting and releasing wildfowl and the ban on the use of decoys. This ban was promulgated in November in Somme, then a few days later at the national level. We have written to him and to the Prefect of Somme, the latter being the direct target of the violent show of strength made shamelessly by the hunters.

Those who have the public interest at heart must show strength and determination to ensure that the rules introduced to protect both humans and animals are observed. Every effort must be made. In view of the unauthorised display boards in the Bay, there’s still a long way to go.

It is one thing that some of our political representatives are totally indifferent to the fate of wild animals trapped, hunted down and massacred in the countryside and on the coasts of France, but the blatant violation of the laws that apply to everyone, in particular those that protect our health, is another. In our opinion both are important. But even for those who couldn’t care less about the fate of animals, consideration for other people and respect for the law that applies to everyone without distinction should at least be a priority.

In addition to our letters to the executive and administrative authorities, we are lodging a complaint against an “unspecified person” for infringing the health regulations, and for the ducks, for “placing them in a situation likely to cause suffering”. Please sign our petition
for the radical reform of hunting.