French animal rights groups call for ban on fox and deer hunting

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Paris (AFP)

A coalition of more than 20 French animal rights groups, including one led by former film star Brigitte Bardot, called Friday for a ban on hunting with hounds.

"Several European countries (including Germany, Britain and Belgium) have already outlawed this cruel sport," they wrote in a letter to Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot.

"What is France waiting for to join these countries that had the courage to ban hunting with hounds?" it said.

Fox and deer hunting with dogs are legal in France where wild boar and hares are also traditionally hunted with hounds.

The call comes after Hulot, France's most famous ecologist, indicated last month that he wanted a rethink of the laws governing hunting.

"Certains practices like hunting with hounds prolong the agony and stress of the animal. That deeply upsets me," Hulot said in an interview with the French magazine, L'Obs.

"That is not what I call civilised," he said, adding he that wanted to initiate a "big rethink" of the way animals were treated with the minister of agriculture.

More than 20 animal rights groups backed the call for a ban including PETA, Sea Shepherd and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.