The decree signed on September 15 authorized the hunting of the gray partridge from September 18 to October 9, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, therefore over ten days. The association for the defense of biodiversity One Voice considers that this authorization carries “irreversible damage to the conservation of the species”. And she disputes the legality of the decree.
“A species in decline”
“We are now talking about the gray partridge of the Pyrenees, because it is no longer present only in these massifs”, attacks the lawyer for One voice, Me Florent Ferjoux. “It is a vulnerable species, in decline, and which must be protected. For him, the decree issued by the prefect runs the risk of seriously harming the conservation of the species. “Because we do not know the state of the gray partridge population, but we still set a maximum of 4 samples per hunter, without establishing a ceiling for samples and without specifying the number of hunters concerned. »
The last “census” dates from 2015 with approximately 3,000 pairs, or 6,500 individuals across the Pyrenees. “We are in 2022, we do not know enough about the workforce”, laments Me Ferjoux. The prefecture presents assessments carried out in August on a sampled area. 488 birds, or 41 “companies” (composed of a dozen birds each). Annual reproduction information that is not a complete count.
Debates over numbers
On the number of hunters concerned, the prefecture also presents its figures. In 2021, 41 hunters tracked the gray partridge in our mountains, and 19 of them managed to “collect one or more specimens”, with a total of 39 galliforms shot. The gray partridge is hunted in Haute Soule, in the western foothills of Béarn and in the upper Aspe valley.
But in fact, they were in fact 199 (out of a total of 19,000 hunters in the 64) to have withdrawn small mountain game sample books. The One Voice lawyer does his calculations. “Potentially, 200 hunters can take gray partridges and at four per hunter, that’s 800, or double the sample observed this summer! »
For the prefecture, hunting is not the main cause of the decline of the species, sensitive to the preservation of its habitat that human activity can disturb, but also to climate change. “Yes, but hunting is a willful attack that can be avoided,” retorted the applicants.
In terms of more administrative law, finally, it is the legality of the public consultation carried out before the decree that is called into question. It was put online without an explanatory note allowing the public to be fully informed.
There are three days of gray partridge hunting left in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. “It’s a third of the hunting period, it’s not nothing” notes One voice when the prefecture retorts that “the bulk of the workforce will have already been hunted”. The judge in chambers rendered her decision in the evening and suspended the prefect’s decree. The hunt for gray partridges is therefore over.