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16 décembre 2019

What are the possible effects of the "protection" of a fox population compared to its assignement as "huntable and likely to cause damage (ESOD)"? This is the question that the ten-year Careli program seeks to answer, initiated by a consortium bringing together the world of agriculture [1], hunting [2], naturalists [3], and health, with the support of researchers of the university of Franche-Comté [4].

Careli programme video presentation (with English subtitles)

Context et objectives

The fox is a species whose populations live in many socio-ecosystems characterized by their complexity. In 2018, in the Doubs department, the proposal to assign the fox in the list of species likely to cause damage has caused heated controversy, with stakeholders arguing, in relation to the various components of the regional socio-ecosystem, about the negative effects of the species (e.g. predation on game such as hares or on protected species, damage to poultry, etc.) or positive effects (consumption of grassland voles considered as pest by farmers, etc.).

During the debates of the specialized formation of the Departmental Commission for Hunting and Wildlife (CDCFS), its members (farmers, hunters, naturalists... ), instead of sterilely remaining on their positions, and agreeing on the need to objectively measure the effects of regulatory decision, relied on researchers to collectively propose a research-action program named Careli (for CAmpagnol REnard LIèvre) aiming, at the end of the study, at the implementation of an adaptive management of fox populations.

The first step is to compare the effects of a difference in status ("protected" versus "huntable and listed ESOD") on:

  • fox populations
  • the populations of grassland voles
  • the populations of hares
  • the contamination of the environment by the Echinococcus multilocularis, a parasite lethal to humans, and by bacteria of the genus Borrelia, the cause of Lyme disease
  • damage to poultry
  • other measurable events (ground nesting bird species, damage to farms,...)

This pilot monitoring programme aims, in the long term, not only to provide a number of objective answers to questions debated in CDCFS, but above all to create decision-making tools that could be adapted to each socio-ecosystem at the national level according to the local contexts. It also aims to lay the foundations for a real and peaceful dialogue between the stakeholders involved in the management of complex, multifunctional and multi-actor systems, including for species other than the fox, in the current context of biodiversity collapse [5].


Where and when ?

The mountane water vole is an important food resource for carnivores in the Haut-Doubs. As its demographic cycles last 5-6 years, it is essential that the study continues over more than one cycle, i.e. at least ten years, and over very large areas, each including a sufficient fox population.

From 2020, two areas located respectively at an altitude of 500-700 m (Valdahon - Vercel) and 850-1000 m altitude (Mouthe valley), have been each divided into two:

  • a sub-area "de facto" protected fox
  • a sub-area "fox ESOD"

They correspond to 4 hunting units of the FDC25 [6].

For each sub-area, for 10 years (including a complete demographic cycle of the mountane water vole), the monitoring listed below will be carried out in order to measure the effects of the two types of management.

Regulatory aspects

The fox cannot be legally protected in the required areas, as are, for example, the wild cat and the lynx (these species are on a national list), but the prefect of the department has the power to remove the fox from the huntable species and from the ESOD list, which amounts to "de facto" protection. It is this regulatory option that the Prefect of the Doubs has agreed to implement in the context of the Careli programme.


MeasureOrganism in charge
Night road side counts (KAI fox, hare, roedeer, badger, wildcat, etc.) FDC25
Day road side counts (raptors, ground nesting bords, etc.) LPO Bourgogne Franche-Comté
Small mammal transect FREDON Bourgogne Franche-Comté
Echinococcus multilocularis contamination and fox genotyping CNR Echinococcoses/Chrono-environnement
Ticks and Borrelia FREDON Bourgogne Franche-Comté, ANSES, CNR Borrelia
Fox damage FNE25
Fox hunting bags FDC25
Protocols, data quality and statistics. Chrono-environnement
Socio-anthropology LASA-UFC
Communication Consortium Careli

Financial support

In 2020, the Careli programme could only be partially implemented, as it was self-financed by the organisations that set it up and the Zone atelier Arc jurassien. In 2021, a larger part of the planned tasks, including the pilots, could be carried out thanks to the additional support of the Regional Council of Burgundy Franche-Comté within the framework of the CPER 2021/2027, to the Zone atelier Arc jurassien, the DRAAF and the DREAL BFC and the Citadelle Museum. Since 2022, the Commissariat à l’aménagement du Massif du Jura has been committed, via the FNADT, to supporting the programme over 5 years within the framework of the CPIER 2021/2027 in addition to the other funding allowing the full implementation of the programme. From 2024, the Agence régionale de santé de Bourgogne Franche-Comté is supporting a programme to monitor tick populations and the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.


  • The administrative coordination of Careli is ensured by Geoffroy Couval, FREDON Bourgogne Franche-Comté and Chrono-environnement
  • The exclusive spokespersons of Careli are those mentioned in the footnote below, for each of the participants

Careli : the blog

For more information about the programme...

See also...


[5A work of this type was carried out by a similar consortium in the first decade of the 2000s for the management of montane water vole outbreaks. Building on the results obtained by action-research in the 1990s, it has enabled the production of a body of new scientifically validated knowledge supporting action, the drastic reduction in the use of rodenticides in vole control as well as their unintended effects to vole predators, and to ground the current national regulation on vole population control. It has also enabled the strengthening of a common culture among all stakeholders, ensuring relatively peaceful management of regional socio-ecosystems (decision support tools, etc.). The "4P" programme created at the end of the 1980s, now included in Zone atelier Arc jurassien, was at the root of this work.

[6respectively 223, 127, 205 and 135 km2