France: pregnant woman killed by dogs during hunt with hounds
Animal rights activists urge halt to hunting season after body found near Villers-Cotterêts
A pregnant woman has been killed by dogs while walking her own dog in a forest in northern France during a hunt with hounds, investigators have said.
The body of the 29-year-old woman was found on Saturday in a forest outside the town of Villers-Cotterêts, about 90km (55 miles) north-east of Paris, the prosecutor’s office in nearby Soissons said.
An autopsy showed that she had died of “bleeding after several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs and the head,” prosecutor Frederic Trinh said on Tuesday. Some of the bites were “postmortem”, he added.
Trinh said that tests had been carried out on 93 dogs, including some hounds from the hunt and five dogs belonging to the woman herself, to try to establish which ones attacked her.
The police have launched an investigation into manslaughter by dog attack.
According to local newspaper Le Courrier Picard, the dogs were hunting deer.
The woman had called her partner while walking her dog to report the presence of “threatening dogs”, the prosecutor’s office said. It was he who later discovered her body.
Brigitte Bardot, president of her eponymous animal welfare foundation, declared herself deeply shocked on hearing of the case and in a letter urged Élisabeth Borne, the French minister for ecological transition, to suspend “immediately all hunt authorisation for this season”.
But the Paris-headquartered French hunting association said that “nothing shows the involvement of hunting hounds in the death of this woman”.
France has more than 30,000 hunt hounds in total and the association stated that “these dogs are trained to hunt a particular animal and obey man in all circumstances”.