While the government intends to put pressure on the supervision of the practice of hunting, the clubs of hikers who criss-cross the paths and woods of Lot-et-Garonne evoke good relations with hunters.
The government has just presented its plan to secure the practice of hunting, decried at times for its accidents which make headlines. Does the cohabitation between hunters and walkers seem problematic in Lot-et-Garonne in the sense of feeling “vulnerable” during walks in the forest during the hunting season? A short tour of the hiking clubs.
In this rural department with strongly anchored values of hunting, fishing and Gascon traditions, hunting remains a hobby that has a hard tooth. The tracking of game, the passage of blue flights and the conviviality of the palombières are part of the imagery of the terroir coupled with the culture of ovalie. However, slow tourism and green tourism have also developed. Sunday walkers, Saint-Jacques pilgrims and other nature lovers take the marked paths and venture into the forest.
Fine knowledge of the field
But with one voice, everyone we interviewed reported a rather peaceful and good-natured coexistence with the world of hunters.
At the CEDP 47, whose mission is to make people discover the landscapes of Lot-et-Garonne, it is explained that the proposed routes are the subject of upstream identification and that each time contact is made with the town halls concerned to see if covered sectors represent a risk linked to the presence of a hunting party and that everything is going well. “The hunters also have a good knowledge of the terrain and on certain events, we even asked them to guide us, as for the walk we had organized around the deer slab”, stipulates the coordinator Alexandra Dibon. .
The Association of hikers of the Agenais sets up outings during the week and at weekends. Jean-Pierre Hilaire, one of the spokespersons, explains that he keeps the hunting companies informed of the scheduled circuits: “If we learn of a hunt, we simply cancel the hike. So far we have not encountered any problems. The danger may come from a certain type of archery hunting whose followers do not really report themselves, but it is not really significant. We can say that relations are cordial with the hunters. And then we observe the proliferation of game which gives rise to hunts organized at the last minute. We often come across deer during the day and we see the traces of wild boars on the ground”.
Common sense and education
The 47 Equestrian Trekking Group offers horseback riding independently or in a rally. Muriel Manquat, the president, has a hunter husband and she confides that the riders of the club also have spouses who devote themselves to hunting. “We have good relations. We report each other, we avoid taking paths blocked by “beaten in progress” signs. We know all the hunters in the area with whom we sometimes share meals. And then where we go horseback riding , you don’t notice that many walkers in the woods. I don’t want to get into a controversy over a period that lasts six months, because hunters also contribute to the balance of the ecosystem. With the milder climate , females no longer experience too many breaks in reproduction. This represents a danger in the car when a deer jumps. Beyond that, as we must advocate education of the rider, it is the same thing for hunters with caution to observe on the range of a rifle shot”.
On the reader side via social networks, a retiree says she never goes for a walk in the forest on weekends and looks for places where she is safe. A lady opposes the holding of beats also during the week. And this, at the express request of some residents who feel insecure about the wandering of wild boars at the gates of urban areas. A reader retorts: “No one is safe when the hunters are in place” illustrating his point with emojis symbolizing alcohol. Blood alcohol screening is one of the Government’s flagship measures in hunting practice. But the wife of a hunter makes a point of specifying that it is part of the received ideas: “When my husband goes hunting he shares the coffee, the pâté, a snack and it stops there!”.
Cars, the real danger
Karine Latimier, secretary of the Groupe cyclotouriste agenais, declares that she has not had any particular feedback or fears from cyclists. “The hunts are identifiable, the hunters identifiable by their outfits. We are more exposed to cars which sometimes force us to squeeze the edge of the road or the ditch. Irresponsible people, we see them in all walks of life”.