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Danger in the woods French accident revives the hunting debate

The accidental shooting of a cyclist by a hunter in France has triggered fresh debate on the dangers of hunting and how to best regulate this potentially lethal activity.  In neighbouring Switzerland, this drama has also evoked strong emotions and reactions.

In mid-October, a young hunter shot and killed a man who was riding a mountain bike in the Haute-Savoie – not far from the Swiss border. He claimed to confuse the cyclist with a deer.

This accidental killing has rekindled heated debates on how hunting is conducted. For the 2017-2018 season, the French National Office for Hunting and Wildlife reported 113 accidents, including 13 deaths (3 of which were non-hunters.)

The tragedy in France also shook up the Swiss hunting commmunity. Hunting is a very popular activity in Switzerland, where there are 30,000 active hunters, including about 1500 women, according to the Swiss Hunting Association.

Regulation regarding hunting is the responsibility of individual cantons. Just because someone owns the land it does not mean that they can hunt on the land. Hunting permits are issued by the canton. The cantons also set game quotas, which regulate the number of wild animals.

Hunting is allowed in every canton except Geneva, where it was banned in 1973. The gaming license is restricted to professionals. Last month, Zurich residents rejected by 84% a popular initiative that called for the adoption of the same restriction.

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