ANNECY, France: French investigators are struggling to explain how a young hunter out on a shooting expedition in the French Alps ended up killing a British mountain biker at the weekend, prosectors said Tuesday (Oct 16).
The 34-year-old Briton, who had been living in the Alps for four years, was fatally injured while out on a ride on a well used, but hard to access mountain track near the village of Montriond.
Local prosecutor Philippe Toccanier told reporters on Tuesday that the victim, named as Marc Sutton, was wearing bright clothes when the 22-year-old hunter discharged his weapon at around 6pm (1600 GMT) on Saturday.
"The area was open and visibility was perfect," he added.
Sutton was struck in the chest and died of his injuries.
All of the witnesses to the death - five hunters aged between 20-23 and another two aged around 40 - have been interviewed by the police, but the shooter remains in hospital where he is being treated for shock.
Hunting has been temporarily suspended in the area.
In September, a 19-year-old hunter was sentenced to a three-year jail term, with two years suspended, after he shot and killed a man in 2015 on a wooded path near Quintal in the Alps.
Hunting remains popular but controversial in France, with farmers and enthusiasts arguing that it is an important social pursuit in rural areas that helps control the population of animals such as wild boar or deer.
Animals rights activists have long campaigned against it and were vocal in their criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron in August when he slashed the price of a hunting license in half to 200 euros (US$230).
According to the national hunting and wildlife agency ONCFS, 115 people had been injured in hunting accidents this year up to Jun 1, with around 85 per cent being hunters themselves.
Thirteen died of their injuries, including three people who were not involved in a hunt.