If you’re lucky enough to live in a region where wild mushrooms grow, you should be aware of some changes to the rules.
In Lozère, a new prefectural decree has been in force since 22 October, and other departments are talking about adopting them too.
The main changes are that if you don’t own the land on which the mushrooms grow, you are only allowed to pick 10 kilos of mushrooms per day. That’s more than enough for most of us, but it is designed to stop the professional mushroom hunters clearing whole fields and woods. For oyster mushrooms (atrium), the permitted quantity is 2 kilos.
The picking must be done between sunrise and sunset.
The other change to the rule is that if you are caught with up to 7 kilos more than the permitted amount, you may be fined up to 750€. Beyond that you may be prosecuted for theft, and the penalties incurred could be up to 3 years in prison and 45,000€ fine.
The rules are blurred on what constitues trespassing. If the terrain is properly fenced off, and there are signs to say that it’s private, then you’re not supposed to pick the mushrooms. If there is no fencing, and it’s not blindingly obvious, then picking can be done ‘within reason’.
[So that’s why the professional mushroom hunters carry wire cutters, and are more than happy to break down a fence if they see the precious ceps on the other side. ‘It wasn’t me gov.’ The new rules are all well and good, but how are these rules going to be policed? It’s virtually impossible. Ed.]