A young man of ours was found dead on June 19 in a rugged area of the Pyrenees, the Saint-Gaudens prosecutor’s office, in Haute-Garonne, announced on Tuesday.
“An investigation was sent to the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB). The autopsy clearly ruled out any human intervention,” said Saint-Gaudens public prosecutor Christophe Amunzateguy. The legal expertise, according to the prosecutor, “established that the death of this one and a half year old animal was certainly the result of a confrontation with another bear or another animal”.
OFB officers found the bear near the village of Melles, where in the 1990s the first releases of Slovenian brown bears took place. In 2020 and 2021, four bears were illegally killed by humans in the Pyrenees. One was poisoned in Spain, the other three were shot.
About 70 bears present in the Pyrenees
The program of reintroduction of the bear, which had disappeared from this mountain range, allowed to leave the presence of the plantigrade. Today, they are around 70, especially in the center of the Pyrenees, in Ariège on the French side, in the Val d’Aran on the Spanish side, according to the French authorities.
The predations of the bear on the herds of sheep in the mountain pastures are denounced by the breeders and the anti-bears, who oppose its presence. Bear scaring measures including non-lethal shots, implemented in France in 2019 to protect herds, have been renewed for the government. According to the Ministries of Ecological Transition and Agriculture, these measures have had “a certain effectiveness in terms of avoiding predation”.
With prefectural authorization, breeders can consent to simple scaring (sound, olfactory and light means) or “reinforced” with non-lethal shots (double detonation cartridges or rubber bullets), if the first measures are not enough. These non-lethal shots are regularly denounced by bear defense associations, which have also won their appeals several times before the Council of State.