Hunting For Members

Everything you need to know about hunting in Switzerland

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Everything you need to know about hunting in Switzerland
Brown Animal on Green Grass, Photo by Adrian Lang:

Hunting is an important past-time for many people in Switzerland but there are lots of rules that both hunters and those people who want to avoid getting caught up in a hunt, should know about.


Although it may surprise many foreigners, hunting is a large part of Swiss culture and it is recognised as an effective method to preserve wildlife populations in the country. In fact, it's so engrained that in 2018 the canton of Zurich rejected an initiative to ban hobby hunting with a huge 84 percent of voters opting against the ban.

Though hunting used to be a right that was reserved purely for the nobility back in the day and regarded as a great privilege, today, everyone in Switzerland is free to learn the trade and participate in the sport. The hunting test and training, however, are regulated differently across the cantons.

Two hunting systems

Switzerland’s federal hunting law obliges the cantons to regulate the wild ungulates stock (various deer species) in such a way that they do not prevent natural forest regeneration and do not cause major damage to agricultural crops.

In Switzerland, a distinction is made between the Patentjagd (chasse à patente) and the Revierjagd (chasse affermée) which are broken down by cantons.


The Patentjagd permits hunting almost anywhere in the canton with the exception of the federal and cantonal no-hunting areas. Those wanting to hunt must however obtain a patent from the canton they wish to hunt in and pay a fee in order to hunt. Further to this, only a certain number of animals may be killed per patent obtained.

The cantons to observe the Patentjagd are: Bern, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus, Zug, Fribourg, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Graubünden, Ticino, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Jura.

In the Revierjagd system, the municipalities lease the right to hunt to groups - usually hunting societies - for a specific period. At the end of the season, the hunting party must then report which animal and how many of the species they have killed. The rent varies depending on the amount of animals that were hunted.

The cantons to observe the Revierjagd are: Zurich, Lucerne, Solothurn, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Land, Schaffhausen, St.Gallen, Aargau, Thurgau.

The Alps in Switzerland.

The Alps in Switzerland. Photo: Allphotobangkok on Pixabay

Is hunting banned anywhere in Switzerland?

Yes. Hunting was abolished in the canton of Geneva in 1974 after a referendum. Since then, where necessary, state-salaried game wardens have regulated wild deer. 

Do I need a hunting permit?

If you want to join Switzerland’s 30,000 active hunters and do some hunting in Swiss forests, you will need to be 18 - or in some cantons, older - and obtain a so-called cantonal hunting ability as well as a cantonal hunting licence.

In order to take part, you will need to pass a hunting test which is made up of a theoretical and practical part.

For the hunting licence, you will either need to obtain a hunting licence in the desired Patentjagd canton or be accepted into a hunting party in one of the Revierjagd cantons.

As a rule, the cantons require annual proof of shooting training.

Hunters who already have a hunting licence from Germany, Austria, or the Principality of Liechtenstein should also note that some individual cantons will recognise a hunting licence from one of those countries.

Some cantons also accept a hunting ability that was obtained in a different canton, though in both cases it is best to contact the hunting administration of the canton in which you intend to hunt to find out if your ability will indeed be recognised.


Hunting season

In many cantons, the main hunting season takes place over a few weeks in the autumn, however, hunting season schedules can greatly differ from canton to canton and can depend on several factors, such as the animal you are hunting, its age, as well as the forest area you will be hunting in.

In the canton of Bern, for instance, the hunting season begins on August 2nd and lasts until February 28th. The most intensive hunting phase in Bern takes place in the months of October and November, when deer can also be hunted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

In the cantons of Zurich and St. Gallen, you can hunt certain species, such as roe deer, as early as May, while the canton of Lucerne will let you hunt from April onwards.

Additionally, most cantons also have select weekdays where hunting is strictly prohibited.


In order to get a comprehensive overview of when, where and what you are allowed to hunt in Switzerland, it is best to contact the hunting administration of the canton you wish to hunt in directly.

And lastly, stay safe on walks…

If you plan to go for a walk or hike in the forest but are unsure whether a hunt is planned in your area, you can either check your municipality’s gazette or reach out to your cantonal hunting administration for more information.

Either way, it is always safer to stay on official hiking trails and pay close attention to hiking trail signs. Dog owners are also advised to keep their dogs on a leash during hunting season.

READ MORE: Where and when must dogs be kept on a leash in Switzerland?


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