Maybe la chasse isn’t such a bad thing…

Went outside this morning to check on any damage after the 120km/hour tempest last night. Fortunately, nothing to report except a few sticks down.

What I did find, though, was that the deer had, yet again, made a meal out of one of my newly-planted shrubs.  This time it was a cotinus, planted last autumn. With all the rain we’ve had it has probably rooted well, despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures over the winter. I thought the deer had ignored it because they didn’t like it, but it seems they were just saving it for a tasty treat. Now it is a shadow of its former self, with several of the branches nipped off and another all but severed from the stem. I will have to protect it with a wire cage, as I have had to do with everything planted in that section of the garden. Fencing the whole property is out of the question – too expensive and they’d get round it or over it anyway.

This is one of the less agreeable aspects of country living. If it’s not the deer, it’s the hares or, even worse, the wild boar (sangliers). The problem is that the area round us is a ‘Réserve de Chasse’, which means that no hunting is allowed. Normally this designation lasts for three years, but someone told us it will be for six this time. We’ve already seen traces of sangliers in our wood as they turn up stones and root in the earth to find acorns and other food.

Sangliers in particular are becoming a real problem. They can be very destructive and the farmers get their crops regularly trampled and eaten. Several mild winters (except for this one) have provided ideal breeding conditions and their numbers have exploded. Sometimes a ‘battue’, or cull, is organised locally and it starts to be high time.

I’m very torn, though. We love our glimpses of deer and, more rarely, sangliers. It reminds us how lucky we are to live in such a tranquil setting. I’m not a great fan of la chasse, which seems to be simply an excuse for primitive blood-lust. But these creatures are a pest, too, and their numbers need to be controlled.

And I am very partial to game…

Copyright © 2010 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved.

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