Activists from the French Bird Protection League (FPO) met fierce resistance from a man in his underpants yesterday when they went to free illegally trapped chaffinches.
The bird protection activists had been having a good morning, reports French newspaper Le Figaro. Since 1976 chaffinches have been a protected species in France, but many French hunters ignore the law to hunt what they still consider to be a delicacy. Since 2010 the FPO has run annual campaigns against the activity, and yesterday they released several chaffinches from illegal basket traps in a cornfield in Landes, western France.
However, matters took a turn for the worse when they attempted the same rescue in another nearby place.
At the second location the bird protection activists, along with several journalists who were there to document their efforts, were surprised by a local resident. The man in question burst out of his house hurling abuse at those present while wielding a shovel.
It is thought the surprise may have been mutual as it appeared that the angry local had not had time to put on a pair of trousers before launching his attack.
A second resident, armed with an agricultural tool, joined the assault on the bird protection crew. In total the fracas was said to last about 15 minutes, only stopping when police arrived to intervene.
According to Le Figaro the events can be summarised as: “flat tyres, journalists robbed of some equipment, injuries but some twenty chaffinches saved.”
The bird protection team reported their assault to the police, and for his part the unnamed poacher said he would be pressing charges for trespassing on private property.
No matter the outcome of the competing complaints, the serious issue of illegal chaffinch hunting has now achieved worldwide fame as photographs of “pants man” have gone viral, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Inevitably spoof versions have also appeared. In one the attacker has joined Mel Gibson’s Braveheart army, suggesting you can take away his chaffinch traps but you can’t take away his freedom.
— Galichet Benoit (@Dragontitou) November 9, 2015
A second Twitter user has even suggested the event could have been a stunt to promote the new Star Wars film.
— Jo Fait L'Malin (@JoFaitLemalin) November 9, 2015