The Tour du Valat's position
The position of the Tour du Valat on hunting, which is motivated by the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl populations, is based, among other things, on its knowledge of the population dynamics and ecology of the quarry species, which is the result of research programmes carried out by the Tour du Valat and other scientific institutes for more than 50 years (ringing by the Tour du Valat of more than 80,000 Anatidae and 40,000 shorebirds). Expertise on the impact of lead poisoning on the avifauna and the hunting practices to be promoted has also been developed in close collaboration with the French National Office of Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS). Finally, hunting activities have been practised at the Tour du Valat Estate since 1961 by the Tour du Valat hunting group. This activity takes place within the framework of precise specifications: utilisation of non-toxic ammunition (steel shot), a maximum take limit for certain species, obligatory individual hunting notebooks, monitoring of the numbers of game killed, and analysis of gut contents, etc.). The collection of hunting statistics (since 1965) has made it possible to monitor this practice, to evaluate its impact, and to produce summary reports every year.
In the light of this information, the Tour du Valat considers that a reasonable amount of hunting is compatible with the conservation of wetlands. In addition, it recognises that up to the present day, hunting activity has partly contributed to this conservation. It is a traditional activity likely to enhance the value of and lead to a viable use of wetlands, and can, in addition, contribute to the diversification of the agricultural activities practiced there and thus to the sustainable development of wetlands.
The Tour du Valat therefore asks that, within the framework of a close collaboration between scientists and the hunting world:
- The open and closed seasons, established in accordance with the Birds Directive, be the same for all species, because staggering the opening dates creates more problems. Consequently, the hunting of migratory birds should begin at the earliest on 1 September and end on 31 January so as to not compromise their breeding success.
- A shift to the use of lead-free ammunition (steel shot or other non-toxic materials) must take place as rapidly as possible, to conform with the conclusions of the Baron2 report. The ingestion of lead shot by waterfowl and the toxic effects resulting from it (lead poisoning), are important factors contributing to mortality and poor condition. This use of non-toxic ammunition should therefore become obligatory in France for the 2006-2007 hunting season.
- The practice of hunting must be accepted as an activity among others in wetlands and as being compatible with other open-air activities (outdoor sports, use of other natural resources in addition to wild game).
- A pertinent and constructive analysis of any changes affecting the resources being used must be carried out, based on ensuring that all hunters log the details of what they shoot, which are then available for analysis: the only method enabling the collection of reliable data relating to hunting statistics.
- A protocol approved by all the parties is applied during prolonged cold periods, following the example of the "Frost" Committee recently set up in the Camargue, which brings together hunters, scientists, protectors of nature, and French governmental services. The role of this committee is to alert the French governmental services in case of a prolonged cold spell, so that hunting may be suspended for a long enough period of time to enable the wildfowl to recover from an energetic point of view and thereby finish the wintering period in conditions that do not compromise their breeding success.
Anthony Olivier, Coralie Hermeloup
Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France
Phone: (33) 04 90 97 20 13, Fax: (33) 04 90 97 20 19, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org