A Bad Day in Brenne

Since we were having to take Caiti to Châteauroux to catch the train to Paris in the first leg of her journey back to Ireland, we decided to head west from there into the Brenne parc naturel regional (regional national park) for a spot of geocaching. Brenne lies in the south-western corner of the département of Indre. It’s a low-lying, damp area dotted with around three thousand man-made lakes, the earliest ones being monk-made in the twelfth century.

As well as being a regional natural park since 1989, it’s also a region naturel. The difference between the two, as far as I can tell, is that the former is a social and political structure adhering to a charter. But since we weren’t massively impressed with the area, then frankly I can’t be bothered to do more in-depth investigation!

It’s pretty enough with its lakes and footpaths, hedges and trees. However, parts of the footpath – a public, signposted, legitimate one – have been carved up by ridiculously oversized agricultural machinery making them jolly tricky to traverse. In its publication here , the Brenne parc naturel boasts about its positive partnership with local farmers. Not that positive, I’d say. The farmers are doing nothing to help repair the public footpaths they destroy.

The worst incident was witnessing an injured deer being pursued by dogs across a lake. Despite it being a regional park, and a nature reserve, bizarrely hunting is permitted. We walked alongside a huge, private hunting area with shooting positions all around it, but this poor deer was in one of the public areas, right next to the footpath.

Two stags had burst out of the hedgerow to our left a few hundred metres ahead of us, and a minute or so later we’d heard a lot of high-pitched barking. We’d thought it was a couple of badly controlled yappy, toy dogs, but when we came to the edge of Etang de Gorgeat, we saw the deer and its noisy pursuers in the water. There was at least one hunter in his orange coat at the far end of the lake, fruitlessly trying to call the dogs back but they were having none of it. The deer kept ahead of the dogs, but when it began to emerge from the water, we saw it had an injured front leg that it could barely use. It sensibly took to the water again where it was just about outpacing the dogs.

By now, upset and furious, I did some shouting and introduced the hunter to a good few English swear words! Chris and I were ready with our walking sticks to beat the dogs off if the deer decided to come ashore where we standing. However, it headed in another direction and reluctantly we carried on our way. We had to retrace our steps five minutes or so later, as part of the geocaching trail, and saw, thankfully, that the deer had made it to the far bank of the lake and the dogs were returning to the opposite one. But the beautiful wild animal had been left injured and in pain. Disgraceful.

Benj suggested I could porter plainte à X. This is a process by which you report a crime (in this case it would have been animal cruelty and possibly illegal hunting) to the authorities, despite not knowing who perpetrated it. It opens an official investigation. However, I looked up about it and you have to be the person suffering the crime to be able to take such action. I also couldn’t confirm that the lake we saw the deer in was one where wildlife was protected or not. However, I shall be writing to the Brenne tourist board, who promise a welcoming, wonderful visit, to relate our unpleasant experience. Either they want tourists or they want sadistic hunters carrying out their anachronistic, barbaric pastime. They can’t have both in the same place.

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