Wales

Hunting ban after mountain biker shot dead in French Alps

Marc Sutton Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Marc Sutton was shot as he rode his mountain bike in the Alps near his home

A French town has temporarily banned hunting after a Welsh chef was killed by a hunter while mountain biking in woods.

Marc Sutton, 34, originally from Caerphilly, south Wales, was hit by a stray bullet near Montriond, Haute Savoie, near the Swiss border.

Locals have started a Facebook page campaigning for a permanent change to restrict hunting in the area.

Friends questioned whether his death could have been prevented.

The mayor of Montriond called a temporary halt to hunting - known as "la chasse" in France - in the Montriond area on Sunday following Mr Sutton's death near his home on Saturday.

A 22-year-old man was taken to hospital suffering from shock and is being investigated on suspicion of aggravated manslaughter, the AP news agency reported.

Local people are encouraging others to send letters to their local councils urging them to reconsider hunting zones.

A draft posted on a newly created Facebook page, Changeons Le Decret Chasse De Montriond/morzine *this Can't Happen Again, calls for an increase in the size of non-hunting zones and limiting hunting to weekend mornings only.

It said: "This accident could have been avoided with better signs from the top of the trail and from the bottom of the trail. In addition, [the towns of] Morzine and Montriond now enjoy international fame due to the many cyclists who come in every summer.

"These same tourists who have no idea that it's hunting all over France."

Mr Sutton was a chef who ran a private catering service and had recently opened a restaurant, Wild Beets Kitchen, in the resort town of Les Gets, which friends from the area said he ran with his partner Jo Watts.

In a tribute, they called him a "headstrong, hardworking, generous and incredibly kind person who lived life to the full and spent as much time as he could in the mountains".

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The 34-year-old had recently opened his own restaurant in the area

"He was never happier than on his snowboard or mountain bike and he knew the pistes and trails of Morzine like the back of his hand."

They said they were trying to "take peace in the fact he died doing what he loved the most".

The tribute added: "We can't describe how completely devastated we are by his death and are all finding it hard to accept that we won't see him again.

"He was dearly loved by all of his friends here and also his family in the UK. Marc loved and respected everything about the mountains and nature and tried to make it a better place."

However the group questioned whether his death could have been prevented and pledged to do "all we can to make sure a tragedy like this is never repeated".

Mr Sutton used to work at The Gwaelod y Garth Inn, just outside of Cardiff.

Head chef, Raymond Bonifay, said: "It's absolutely devastating, it's such tragic news. He had everything going for him, business was booming, he was an excellent chef.

"He was full of life, outgoing and lived life to the full."

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