French hunter convicted for killing man he mistook for boar

A French hunter who shot dead a Franco-British man he mistook for a wild boar got a two-year suspended sentence on Thursday, days after the government outlined tighter rules for the sport.

As well as banning the shooter from hunting for life, the court in southwestern town Cahors gave the hunt leader an 18-month suspended sentence and a five-year ban.

The death of 25-year-old Morgan Keane caused outrage in 2020 when he was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac.

"There isn't a day I don't think about it, it's marked me for life. I'm sorry," the shooter told the court at the November opening of his trial for involuntary manslaughter, admitting that he had not "identified the target".

The case revived tensions between anti-hunting activists and defenders of a rural hobby and practice that is seen as necessary by farmers to keep down deer and boar populations in particular.

During the busy times of the hunting season, large parts of the French countryside reverberate with the sound of gunshots, leading many walkers to avoid forested areas for their own safety.

On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron's government said it would tighten rules against hunting under the influence of drugs or alcohol, strengthen training and safety requirements and set up digital systems to warn other countryside users away from active hunting zones.

Punishments will also be upgraded, including hunters losing their licences if they are involved in a serious accident.

But ministers stopped short of implementing a popular proposal to ban hunting altogether on Sundays, fearing backlash from the influential hunting lobby.

Statistics show hunting accidents have been on the decline in France over the past 20 years.

But cases of injury or even death from stray bullets remain highly emotive and are often widely covered by the media.

Willy Schraen, the head of the influential FNC hunting lobby, said last week he couldn't imagine hunting-free Sundays "for a single second".

He has claimed there would be uproar in rural areas if there were a ban.

There are 1.1 million active hunters in France, according to the FNC, and some five million people possess a hunting licence.

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