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Jean-Claude and Juliette - the hunter and his wild boar, a "love" story

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Jul 8, 2011 in Environment
While it's not exactly along the lines of Shakespeare's tragedy, the story of Jean-Claude Martin and Juliette could have had a similar ending, had the French justice system not come to its senses at the last moment.
On Friday a court ruled that the pair could remain together; he a hunter of an age that should perhaps know better, she a three-year-old female boar.
The couple first "met" back in 2008 when Martin from the village of Lachau in the south-eastern département of Drôme found the then 800-gramme Juliette all alone and stuck in a hole in the forest, unable to get out and, as he told Europe 1 radio, "Facing certain death".
He rescued her, took her home, bottle-fed and cared for her until over the years she grew into a fine beast, weighing in at 100 kilogrammes.
Martin apparently wanted to release Juliette back into the wild, but she was having none of it and kept returning for a little more TLC.
So the by-now former hunter put away his gun and gave in to the path of "true love", building a pen for her, and Juliette became as much his darling as he did hers.
"She followed me everywhere and played with a ball," Martin said.
"Juliette knew her place in the household, got on with the dogs and in a manner of speaking we lived together."
But while Juliette's fame soon spread throughout the village and she became something of a mascot, officialdom threatened to put an end to their "idyll" and worse still, Juliette's life.
As TF1 news reports, in 2010 Martin received a visit from wardens of l'Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (the government-run organisation for overseeing hunting and wildlife in France, ONCFS) and was told that he didn't have a licence to keep her and she would either have to be returned to the wild or be put down.
ONCFS even went as far as to take Martin to court for illegally "possessing a wild animal" but on Friday the case was thrown out and Martin acquitted.
Speaking afterwards Patrice Grillon, Martin's lawyer - and presumably Juliette's come to that - told Agence France Presse how relieved his client was about the decision.
"Jean-Claude Martin has a very special bond with his sow and there's no doubt she would have died had he not intervened in the first place," he said.
"Over the years it's clear that Juliette has become a domesticated animal," he added.
And Martin?
Well he's in pig heaven and can continue giving Juliette her daily treats of biscuits and sugar lumps.