Franche-Comté. Shooting against wolves in Haut-Doubs was illegal

Franche-Comté. Shooting against wolves in Haut-Doubs was illegal
Franche-Comté. Shooting against wolves in Haut-Doubs was illegal

In a judgment rendered this Tuesday, June 18, the Besançon administrative court censored the prefectural decrees which had authorized wolf shooting in Haut-Doubs in October 2022. Three wildlife defense associations, One Voice, the Pôle des large predators and Ferus, had attacked these decisions, developing their arguments during a hearing held on May 28. They believed that the authorizations had been issued hastily, without the prefect respecting all the provisions provided for by law. The wolves were killed after suspected predation on two different farms, in Chapelle-des-Bois and Chapelle-d’Huin.

How to protect a herd

In its judgment, the administrative court recalls that the terms of protection of a herd against wolves are provided for by the ministerial decree of November 28, 2019. They consist of reinforced surveillance of animals, the use of dogs such as patous , and in the installation of electrified parks. If these three means cannot be considered, due to the nature of the herd or the configuration of the premises making protection too difficult or too costly, then the prefect must submit for opinion to the coordinating prefect of the “National action plan on the wolf” a “technico-economic analysis” carried out on a case-by-case basis. If this study concludes that it is “unprotectable”, only then can the shots be triggered.

Botched procedures

And this is where the problem lies, according to administrative justice. In the case of the first herd, the prefect thus decreed that it was “non-protectable”, but abstaining from any technical-economic analysis, and from the opinion of the coordinating prefect. Reason why the order was canceled.

The second contested prefectural authorization concerned a flock of sheep “which it was alleged actually benefited from protection measures”, the judges noted. But the magistrates also considered that “the risk of significant damage was not met”, particularly since the sheep had not suffered an attack for more than thirteen years. The attack in October 2022 only targeted the cattle herd from the same farm. In addition, “the prefect has not provided proof of the reality of the measures to protect the herd concerned”.

It may be surprising that justice rules on irreversible facts, since the wolves concerned were killed. But associations will now be able to use this favorable judgment to remind state services of the procedures they must respect, this time before any decision.

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