Monday, May 15 was World Badger Day, but in France protection depends on which side of a boundary the badgers are.
Badgers are not all in the same boat in the Alsace region of France. There are the lucky ones, in the department of Bas-Rhin, where hunting is not allowed. Sadly, their neighbours, in the Haut-Rhin, can be hunted legally as in the rest of France.
The Bas-Rhin is therefore a national exception to the rule, the only department where it has neither the status of pest nor of a huntable animal. “In fact, it is classified without legal status. This means that there is no authorization to hunt it and therefore that it cannot be hunted”, says Lætitia Duhil, badger referent at the League for the Protection of Birds.
The status of ‘pest’, hunted or not, is defined in each department by commissions bringing together hunters, farmers, foresters, environmental associations, and representatives of the State. In the Bas-Rhin, the associations advised at the end of 2004, a cessation of badger hunting.
Since then, it has not been deemed necessary to return to hunting, on the findings that a natural balance in their numbers now prevails and there is simply no need. In the Haut-Rhin, however, the wildlife commission has not yet invalidated badger hunting. Last year, only a hundred badgers were killed, an insignificant number compared with an estimated population of 10,000 – 15,000 badgers across Alsace. Leaving badgers alone seems to simply be the best way to manage them. This philosophy will hopefully now spread across France and elsewhere in Europe.
Translated from & with thanks to: