Last week, people in south-western France found a dead bear in the Pyrenees. The wild bear was killed illegally with multiple bullets in the Ariege department, as reported by The Connexion. The brown bear is a controversial animal in the French Pyrenees. Environmental organisations have undertaken several efforts through reintroduction to re-establish a population. Especially farming communities oppose this initiative. Many farmers believe that bears threaten their livestock and thereby also the farmer’s livelihood.
Please also read: Bear crisis in French National Parks
Reintroducing the Pyrenean brown bear
As a response to this case, the French Minister of Ecology filed an official complaint on behalf of the State to investigate this crime. Currently, the police are investigating the case.
A bear was discovered today killed by bullets. Bears are a protected species; this act is illegal and deeply reprehensible. The [local] prefect is on-site. The State will file a complaint.
When President Macron visited the Pyrenees in January 2020, he pledged that France has done enough to support the return of the brown bear. It seems that the President believes that it was sufficient to allow the release of two female bears in addition to the 40 a 50 existing wild bears back then. Since 1996, several reintroductions took place, also in 1997, 2006 and 2008. Estimations on the total population of Pyrenean bears ranges between 50-100 individuals at the moment. Nevertheless, the French authorities are obliged to restore the bear population further in the Pyrenees according to the European Union. In addition, local environmental organisations vowed to continue reintroduction efforts to establish a sustainable population. The same organisations also highlight how livestock protection measures effectively prevent depredation. Furthermore the Pyrenean mountain dogs is an adequate measure to protect livestock from predators, like the bear or even the wolf.
€30 000 to find the killer
The NGO Sea Shepherd France initiated a reward for any information that leads to the killer of this individual. It started off initially with a reward of €10 000. However, soon after donations arrived from NGO’s supporters to increase the reward. Collectively, the reward is now already €30 000 euro, and could increase further. The reward is aimed to support the police with their investigation, not to replace their authority. Earlier in 2019, the same NGO successfully drew out a witness of a wildlife crime on seals by rewarding €10 000. This lead to the arrest of two men who will stand trial in September 2020.