Pregnant Frenchwoman was killed by her own dog, not hunting hounds, says police source

A pregnant Frenchwoman who died while walking in the woods during a deer hunt was killed by her partner's dog and not the hunting hounds, a source close to the probe and a hunting club said Tuesday after DNA testing.

Pregnant Frenchwoman was killed by her own dog, not hunting hounds, says police source
The woman was walking in the woods when she was attacked. Illustration photo: AFP

Elisa Pilarski, 29, lost her life while out walking her partner's American Staffordshire terrier Curtis in Retz forest northeast of Paris in November 2019.


She was six months pregnant at the time. The mysterious circumstances of the case sparked huge interest in France and became a cause latched on to by pro- and anti-hunting advocates.

A post-mortem showed that Pilarski died of bleeding after several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs and the head.

Suspicion initially fell on the hunting hounds but DNA tests on 67 dogs incriminated her partner's dog Curtis instead, the local hunting club announced.

“The results of the DNA tests definitively confirm the innocence of the hounds,” the Rallye La Passion club said, adding that they showed Curtis to be the killer.

Another source close to the investigation, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the terrier's DNA was found on Pilarski's dog bites and added that her DNA was also found on his leash.

Just before the attack Pilarski had phoned her partner, Christophe Ellul, to tell him that she had come across threatening dogs and had difficulty keeping Curtis on his leash.

Ellul arrived on the scene around 45 minutes later to find her body in a ravine, next to Curtis and a pack of hounds.

Her clothes had been torn off.

Ellul accused the hounds over her death, allegations the hunting club vigorously denied.

DNA tests were carried out on 62 hounds and five dogs belonging to Pilarski and Ellul, including Curtis.

Pilarski's mother said her daughter had never been alone with Curtis before.

After her death, the terrier went on to bite a person at a dog pound.

Member comments

  1. So, is this the official verdict or based on the police’s veiw of the matter? I don’t know how inquests work in France.
    It all sounds suspicious, but what ever the circumstances it’s a trajic end to the young woman and her baby.

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Swedish regions raise limits on bear-hunting to combat attacks on reindeer

Several Swedish regions have increased the number of bears that can be killed during this year's hunting season.

Swedish regions raise limits on bear-hunting to combat attacks on reindeer
A hunter prepares to go out on the first day of the bear-hunting season in Sweden. Photo: Adam Ihse / TT

Jämtland is doubling the amount of bears that are allowed to be killed in the region this year to 200. 

The decision comes after the regional bear population has grown to 1,044 at the last count. Jämtland is hoping that the expanded license will reduce the number of bears to around 650.  

We have assessed that the heavy expansion of licensed hunting is necessary, partly to reduce the bear population to the regional target within five years,” said Emma Andersson, who is in charge of managing game and hunting for the region.

Sweden allows some licensed hunting of bears, partly because of their interference with reindeer herding, one of the main economic sectors in northern Sweden for Indigenous Sámi people.

There are around 1,000 reindeer herding companies in Sweden, and an estimated 2,500 people are dependent on incomes from reindeer herding, according to the website of the Sámi parliament.

The presence of predators in northern Sweden has become a complicated political issue as they pose a great threat to the sustainable farming practices of the Sámi. The Sámi parliament estimates that one quarter of reindeer are killed by predators each year, significantly higher than the ten percent limit set by parliament. 

At the same time, the hunting of bears and other predators like wolves must be strictly overseen by the region due to their protected status. 

The increased allowance for hunting bears in Jämtland is directed specifically towards areas where there is a clear link that it could harm the reindeer herding industry, according to the regional board.

Similar decisions have been taken in Västerbotten, where 85 bears can be killed this year compared to 25 in the previous year, and in Västernorrland where they are allowing 75, almost doubling the previous year’s figure.

While no decision has been taken yet in Norrbotten, the hunting association is demanding similar measures, as 20 bears were shot last year during the hunt and another 60 through emergency measures to protect reindeer.

The licensed hunting period takes place between August 21st and October 15th in Norrbotten every year, with some exceptions.

A count by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency found that there were around 2,900 bears in total in Sweden as of 2017.