BAN HUNTING ON YOUR LAND?
YES, YOU CAN!

INTERDIRE LA CHASSE CHEZ SOI, C'EST POSSIBLE DEFENDRE DE CAÇAR A L'ENTORN DE SON OSTAL, ES POSSIBLE

Given the number of dreadful accidents over the past few years in France – with stray bullets fatally injuring car drivers, hikers or residents in their garden – tensions are rising between the hunters and those who firmly believe that hunting should be banned on their land. And they have every right to think that way. “No-hunting” laws exist, except in three départements in Alsace-Moselle – an exception to the rule. Everywhere else, to assert this legal right to ban hunting, all you have to do is make a request by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt and send it to the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département. Their presidents and their technicians are your privileged interlocutors; they will be there to inform you and assist you. They are the only ones authorised to do so. In this article we shall be telling you the fast and easy steps to follow.

Tableau de chasse
Tableau de chasse

To begin with, here are the right questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does there exist, without my knowing it, some former agreement for hunting rights on my property that is still in force?
  2. Is my property a part of an ACCA, Association Communale de Chasse Agréée (Approved municipal hunters’ association)?
  3. Am I situated in one of the following départements: la Moselle, le Haut-Rhin or le Bas-Rhin?
  4. My property is not encumbered by some old lease agreement and is not, or no longer, in an ACCA. Do I nevertheless have to assert my right to ban hunting?

After a thorough journalistic investigation, I can safely say that in each case solutions exist for banning hunting on your land. Let’s examine in detail the first questions to be posed, so as to take effective action.

1 / Does there exist, without my knowing it, some former agreement for hunting rights on my property that is still in force?

HOW TO GET HOLD OF AN OLD LEASE OF HUNTING RIGHTS

You must understand that in France, a priori, all private property is granted hunting rights. These hunting rights are not systematically held by the owner himself, although he may quite candidly think so.

In actual fact, in our countryside a large number of lands appear in old hunting lease agreements, sometimes very old ones, signed by former owners. But, although when purchasing a property, diagnostic tests concerning asbestos, lead or termites are mandatory, the deed of sale hardly ever stipulates the existence of a previous hunting lease, even though one of the characteristics of this sort of contract is that it remains unchanged even after several changes of ownership. In other words, this hunting lease will not have expired unless an owner, aware of its existence, wishes to exercise his right and undertakes the necessary steps to cancel it, in order to ban hunting henceforth on his land. The same applies for an owner who is himself a huntsman and who wants to reclaim his hunting rights for his own private use. Among hunters, the existence of old leases tends to be common knowledge.

In short:

Hunting rights are not annulled when there is a change of ownership; they remain valid unless the new owner takes action himself to annul them. Hence, a lot of misunderstanding. For example, an owner is upset when he frequently sees a group of hunters on his land, even though they are in fact free to be there, since hunting rights for the plots of land in question had been signed over by a former owner, for the benefit of their association. To maintain these rights, the hunters refrain from alluding to them, fearing that they may be cancelled. It is up to you to make things clear as soon as possible.

2 / Is my property part of an ACCA, Association Communale de Chasse Agréée (Approved municipal hunters’ association)?

SINCE 29 April 1999, EVERYONE CAN WITHDRAW HIS LAND FROM AN ACCA

The existence of an ACCA means that 60% of the landowners who own at least 60% of the land agreed to the creation of a communal hunting association and bestowed upon itself the right to hunt in the whole of your “commune”. It is worth noting that the ACCAs ensure that safe distancing is respected: no hunting is allowed within 150 metres of habitations – a rule that does not exist outside the ACCAs. Hunters and non-hunters have, since 29 April 1999, been able to withdraw their land from ACCAs, to be able to hunt alone or to ban hunting altogether. So, there are two separate formulas.

Territorial opposition concerns owners who are themselves hunters

If a property owner wishes to get his hunting rights back for his own personal use, even though his property is registered in an ACCA area, he must own a minimum number of hectares, depending on the hunted species. For example in Dordogne, this hunter must own at least 20 hectares in one single block for big game hunting. The ACCA name this an “opposition territoriale”.

“L'opposition de conscience” concerns owners who are not hunters themselves

If you are not a hunter and you wish to exclude your plots of land from an ACCA, you are free to do so – whatever the size of your parcels. This is called an « opposition de conscience » and it commits you to neither hunt nor hold a hunting permit. This follows a ruling of the European Court vis-à-vis Human Rights (29 April 1999), the Chassagnou act, which modified French law as to hunting rights. Since then, the owners whose land had previously been subject to hunting rights dictated by an association they were tied to now have a real opportunity to contest. In effect, they enjoy the right to withdraw their parcels through “personal convictions opposed to hunting”. This is called « opposition de conscience » and does not call for further justification.

Follow this link to see the rulings modifying the compulsory inclusion of land in the hunting perimeter and the landowners’ compulsory membership of the association (against their will):

juridique.defenseurdesdroits.fr

ARRÊT RELATIF À L'INCLUSION FORCÉE DES TERRAINS DANS LE PERIMÈTRE DE LA CHASSE ET L'ADHÉSION OBLIGATOIRE DES PROPRIÉTAIRES CONTRE LEUR GRÉ À L'ASSOCIATION DE CHASSE : CHASSAGNOU ET AUTRES C. FRANCE

English version (European Court of Human Rights)

In short:

It is never impossible to withdraw from an ACCA. The landowners who are themselves hunters and wish to hunt on their own property are well acquainted with the rules of the game in terms of minimal surface, which varies according to the hunted species. Since the Chassagnou Act (29 April 1999), non-hunters too are able to withdraw their plots of land from the ACCA in their “commune”, by exercising their conscientious opposition, without any need to justify their decision.

3/ Am I geographically located in Moselle, Haut-Rhin or Bas-Rhin?

IN ALSACE-MOSELLE, “L'OPPOSITION DE CONSCIENCE” IS NOT RECOGNIZED

In Alsace-Moselle in France, in the départements of Moselle, Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin, there still exists specific legislation determined by the Concordat, stemming from the attachment of these territories to the German Empire in 1870. In these départements hunting is permitted everywhere and administered by the communes on behalf of the landowners, according to article L429-2 and following of the Environmental Code.

You can obtain precise information on article L429-2 concerning hunting rights, on land and wetland, administered by the commune, in the name of and on behalf of the owners, by following this link:

www.circulaires.gouv.fr

Droit national en vigueur / Codes / Code de l'environnement / Section 1 : Administration de la chasse sur le ban communal (Articles L429-2 à L429-18)

But if, here again, an owner who hunts can withdraw from this arrangement provided he has the demanded surface areas depending on the hunted species; on the other hand, a non-hunter owner will be unable to stop hunting – unless he fences off the whole of his parcels, in accordance with the strict requirements in article L424-3 in the Environmental Code. “A wall or a fence the whole way round will stop hunters and game animals getting in”. This can require a big budget. Even so, this fencing solution is currently the only way to prohibit hunting on your land in Alsace-Moselle; there, “L'opposition de conscience” is not recognized by the law.

In short:

Other than in Alsace-Moselle, the first thing to do when you are contemplating buying property in France, or when you have just bought one and wish to ban hunting on your land, is to find out whether there already exists a lease for hunting rights and whether there is an ACCA in the commune in question. The earlier the better, since a request for the cancellation of a lease must be put in six months before the anniversary of the latter; otherwise the lease will be automatically renewed for one, two, or three years, according to the initial period defined for this type of contract. As for the ACCAs, they are taken out for five years, which in the case of a request less than six months before the renewal may seem long.

4/ My property is not bound by old leases and is not, or no longer, in an ACCA. Do I nevertheless need to assert my right to ban hunting?

AS A PRECAUTION, IT IS BETTER TO STATE CLEARLY YOUR OPPOSITION TO HUNTING

Even if, a priori, with neither hunting leases nor an ACCA and following on from an owner who had asserted his right to ban hunting on the land you have just bought, you think that this status will automatically be continued, it is wiser to contact the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département to affirm your wish to see this continue. For, apparently, six months later an ACCA could, with no action taken on your part, consider that your land has come back into their fold. Discussing the matter, communicating with the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département is by far the best solution.

YOUR PRIVILEGED PARTNER IN EACH AND EVERY CASE – TO INFORM YOU AND AFFIRM YOUR CHOICES: THE FÉDÉRATION DES CHASSEURS IN YOUR DÉPARTEMENT

The Prefect and the Directions Départementales des Territoires (DDT) were formerly your contacts, but from now on the management of requests to ban hunting is under the sole and exclusive authority of the Fédérations Départementales des Chasseurs. So, to know in advance if there is a hunting lease or an ACCA covering your property, you must contact the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département, for example the FDC24 in the Dordogne. It is the Fédérations de Chasseurs that house all the archives and the records of all the hunting leases, old and new, and the list of the ACCAs.

The départements are divided into zones; each zone has a technician who is well acquainted with the hunting grounds and their whereabouts. You would do well to start by getting in touch with him by asking for his name and phone number. Sometimes downloadable web documents will allow you to identify him. On the Fédérations des Chasseurs la Dordogne website, for example: chasseurs24.com ou will find the contact details of the technician in your zone on PDF maps such as these:

Carte de répartition des secteurs techniques FDC24
Carte de répartition des secteurs techniques FDC24

Download the pdf : Carte-de-répartition-des-secteurs-techniques.pdf

Open the pdf : Carte-de-repartition-des-secteurs-techniques.pdf

I strongly advise you to speak directly over the phone with the responsible technician; without doubt, you will be competently and politely informed.

Depending on the answers given by the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département, there will be two possible scenarios:

I / There is an old hunting lease concerning the whole or part of your property, signed with a now identified hunting society.

II / Your property is part of an ACCA, Association Communale de Chasse Agrée, which by definition includes the whole of your commune.

I/ First scenario, how to cancel a former lease that is still in existence?

If the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département informs you that there is indeed a hunting lease concerning the whole or part of your property, things are straightforward. You’ll have to ask for a copy of it by mail or email, so as to identify the lease holder and be in a position to cancel the lease.

To do this, you have to prepare two short and concise letters which you will send by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt:

  • The first one to the Société de chasse that is the holder of the old hunting lease, so as to express your wish to cancel the lease in force and your wish to ban any form of hunting on your land from that moment on.
    Objet : annulation du bail de chasse ancien et interdiction de la chasse sur l'ensemble de mes parcelles en vertu de mon opposition de conscience
    … along with two attached documents that your town hall will provide free of charge:
  • a list of your cadastral parcels
  • a cadastral plan showing your parcels.
  • The second one to the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département to cancel this old lease and establish a ban on hunting on all your parcels.
    Objet : annulation du bail de chasse ancien et interdiction de la chasse sur l'ensemble de mes parcelles en vertu de mon opposition de conscience
    … along with those same two attached documents that your town hall will provide free of charge:
  • a list of your cadastral parcels
  • a cadastral plan showing your parcels
  • as well as a copy of the letter sent to the society that is the holder of the old hunting lease.

II / Second scenario, how to withdraw your parcels from an ACCA?

If you are not a hunter yourself and you wish to withdraw your parcels from an ACCA, Association Communale de Chasse Agréée, all you have to do is clearly express your “opposition de conscience”, by sending a letter by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt to the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département, which runs the ACCAs:

  • Objet : Volonté d'extraire mes parcelles de l'ACCA en vertu de mon opposition de conscience
    … along with those same two attached documents that your town hall will provide free of charge:
  • a list of your cadastral parcels
  • a cadastral plan showing your parcels.

The Fédération des Chasseurs has up to 4 months to issue the certificate stipulating that your land is no longer in the ACCA’s hunting zone.

So that it is clearly understood that hunting is banned on your property, you also need to place signs right round your land, carrying the following notice:

PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO HUNTING (PROPRIÉTÉ PRIVÉE, CHASSE INTERDITE)

As soon as you obtain the permission to ban hunting from the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département, you will need to place clearly visible « Propriété privée, Chasse interdite » (“Private Property, No Hunting”) signs all around your property. N.B.: when one sign is visible, the next one must be visible too.

In conclusion, hunting is like organ donation: you are presumed to be “for it”, unless you have clearly stipulated your opposition. On a registration form at the national register of refusals, if you are opposed to the removal of body elements after your death, and in an “RAC” (registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt) letter sent to the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département, if you are opposed to hunting on your property.

As you will now have understood on reading this article, although an old hunting lease can continue irrespectively of changes of ownership, the exercise of the right to ban hunting, obtained by following the steps explained in this article, must be carried out no more than six months after the change of ownership. To put it plainly, if you sell your property to somebody who wants the ban on hunting to continue, he will have to renew his request with the Fédération des Chasseurs in his département. If he doesn’t, hunting rights on this property could become effective once more, without his knowledge, six months after the sale.

If the owner says nothing, his willingness to agree to hunting on his land supposedly “goes without saying”. The old habit is tenacious! This clashes with the development of the environmental code which states that “hunting without consent” is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or a prison sentence, according to the circumstances. Here is a brief excerpt:

Article L428-1

Modifié par Ordonnance n°2000-916 du 19 septembre 2000 - art. 3 (V) JORF 22 septembre 2000 en vigueur le 1er janvier 2002

Est puni de trois mois d'emprisonnement et d'une amende de 3 750 euros le fait de chasser sur le terrain d'autrui sans son consentement, si ce terrain est attenant à une maison habitée ou servant à l'habitation, et s'il est entouré d'une clôture continue faisant obstacle à toute communication avec les héritages voisins.

Si le délit est commis pendant la nuit, la peine d'emprisonnement encourue est de deux ans.

There is a three month prison sentence and a fine of 3,750 euros for anyone found hunting on someone else’s land without their consent, if this land is adjacent to an inhabited or inhabitable home, and if it has a fence all around it, acting as a barrier.

An infraction happening during the night entails a two year prison sentence.

Mention d'avertissement Attention ! Les traductions du droit français consultables sur le site Légifrance sont dépourvues de valeur légale : elles ont une simple portée informative. Seule la version française des textes paraissant au Journal officiel de la République française fait foi.

For full details concerning the Environmental Code articles governing hunting, all you have to do is go the Légifrance site below:

www.circulaires.gouv.fr

Droit national en vigueur / Codes / Code de l'environnement / Chapitre VIII : Dispositions pénales (Articles L428-1 à L428-29)

So, here in France hunting appears to be possible everywhere, unless a formal objection has been voiced. However, the law explains that hunting on someone else’s property, without consent, is forbidden. The question remains: if nothing has been said, does that imply consent? I’ll let you think about that, but I’m sure about one thing: my advice is, quite simply, to clearly express your choices to the appropriate person.

Finally, don’t forget that big game hunting, at least in the Périgord, starts on August 15. Take the necessary steps now, in spring, if you want your no-hunting rights to be taken into consideration. Your official letter to the Fédération des Chasseurs in your département will receive a reply no later than 4 months after your application.

Lastly, you must know that if, despite all this, you catch someone hunting on your land without your consent, you must dial 112, the gendarmerie, to report the infringement.

Sophie Cattoire
journaliste, grand reporter


Translated into English
by Valérie Saraben

Annonces