(Translation of the French conservationists’ appeal)

From 25 to 28 May 2006, French hunting associations organised a national terrier digging-out competition in the countryside near Saint Bonnet Tronçais in the Allier Départment of France. Target species were the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes and the Eurasian Badger Meles meles.

The digging-out (le déterrage) involves cornering animals in their lair, burrow or sett and driving them out for the kill, or digging with picks and shovels, using dogs, usually terriers. It is the most cruel hunting method still practised in France. It is however permitted by ministerial decree, except for the month of May, when the young are being reared and are still incapable of leaving the burrows. Nevertheless this competition took place at the height of the rearing season.

This form of hunting is justified by its practitioners on account of damage caused to agricultural activities. The damage done by badgers is in fact minimal. Its diet consists essentially of earthworms, insects, molluscs, small mammals, fruit and tubers. Nevertheless, its burrowing activity under farmland can cause actual damage through collapsing tunnels. Such cases are however very local and the killing of individual animals is then generally considered legitimate.

Digging-out is however practised purely for the benefit of the dogs and sport for the human hunters. It serves no practical purpose and is extremely disruptive to wildlife.

There are signs that the badger, particularly as a consequence of this macabre sport, is in an unfavourable state of conservation. The situation in Allier is not precisely known but, in case of doubt, the badger should be protected from such activities. It receives full protection in Belgium, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

French and other European conservation organisations strongly oppose the holding of such events and demand that they be banned by the responsible authorities. They are destructive not only to wildlife and natural habitats, but cause disturbance to numerous other animal and bird species.

Human interplay with wildlife should, as far as possible, be restricted to discreet and non-disturbing observation. This provides pleasure to the observers and contributes to a sustainable natural balance. This is of particular importance in the Tronçais forest, a natural inheritance for us all.

We refuse to accept this form of practice; even less as a “sporting championship”! Such brutal actions towards animals are inexcusable and must be tolerated no longer.


The local conservationists have formulated an appeal to the Préfet of Allier Départment urging him to ban this from of hunting. A copy of this text in English and French is available below. Please send either text, by copying, clicking on the link, and pasting in the email body, to:



M le Préfet
Allier Département
Monsieur le Préfet,

We are extremely disturbed to hear that the hunting organisations in your Département carried out a badger digging hunt competition from 25 – 28 May this year. The Eurasian Badger Melus melus is protected in several European countries. The fact that this hunt took place in the season when young are reared makes the action all the more incredible and brutal.

We strongly protest against this barbaric practice which can on no account be justified. We thoroughly support the actions of local conservationists to have this cruel sport, which is out of place in this day and age, banned. We urge you, M. le Préfet, to take action to implement such a ban.

Yours faithfully,

(Name and address)

OR …
Le déterrage
Monsieur le Préfet,

Du 25 au 28 mai 2006, l’association des amis du rallye Les Mailleries organise, avec le soutien de l’association Des Déterreurs (ADD) et l’association Française des Equipages de Véneries Sous Terre (AFEVST) un championnat international de déterrage de blaireau qui aura lieu St Bonnet de Tronais, dans l’Allier.

A cette époque les jeunes blaireaux sont encore en pleine période de dépendance, peine sortis des terriers et dépendent encore de leurs parents pour leur survie.

Etant très attaché la protection de la faune, je déplore et dénonce l’organisation d’un tel concours. Je vous demande de ne pas délivrer l’autorisation correspondante. Cette autorisation tomberait dans la période complémentaire de déterrage de blaireau fixe par le code rural.

Cette période complémentaire est actuellement rejeté par l’ensemble des associations françaises de protection de la nature et sa fédération nationale France Nature Environnement (FNE).

Le déterrage des blaireaux pendant cette période complémentaire et plus encore l’occasion de ce concours monstrueux va irrémédiablement perturber et détruire la population de blaireau dans la zone considère.

La demande formule par les associations de déterrage est uniquement pour assouvir un plaisir personnel et cruel. Or la nature et la faune est un bien commun tous. L’observation des animaux sauvages dans la nature, effectue avec discrétion et sans la gêner est accessible tout le monde.

La différence entre les naturalistes et tout autre personne qui observent la nature et les chasseurs (les déterreurs sont en fait des chasseurs), c’est que les premiers laissent la nature intact après leur passage et les deuxièmes détruisent un bien commun tous.

En plus choisir la fort de Tronais comme terrain de jeux est un scandale.

Cette fort est unique aussi bien pour ses arbres que pour sa faune.

Je me permets si vous souhaitez vous documenter sur la biologie du blaireau de vous conseiller de lire le chapitre qui lui est consacré dans le livre Mammifères Sauvages d’Europe de Robert Hainard (Editions Delachaux et Niestl)

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur le Préfet, l’expression de ma considération distingue.

(Name and address)