Saturday, December 4

France: a wounded hunter kills a bear

A hunter injured by a bear in Ariège, the bear killed by the hunter. This clash that occurred on Saturday in the Couserans massif risks reigniting the bear war in a department where cohabitation is considered impossible. Saturday afternoon, a group of hunters were tracking wild boar in the town of Seix, about sixty kilometers east of Foix. Around 3:30 p.m., they called for help, indicating that one of them had just been injured by a bear.

The PGHM gendarmes intervened with the 70-year-old hunter, seriously injured in the femoral artery. He will be evacuated first to the Foix hospital and then transferred to the Toulouse CHUs due to the seriousness of his injuries, indicates the prefecture of the department.

The hunter had time to tell his comrades that he was attacked by a bear accompanied by her young. She bit him on the leg and he fired twice at the animal.

The bear was found dead a few meters from where the hunter was rescued.

The Ariège prefecture has indicated that a judicial inquiry has been opened into the circumstances of this accident.

“Cohabitation is complicated!”

“This is really what we feared. Today, we can see that cohabitation is complicated ! “, the president of the departmental council of Ariège, Christine Tequi (PS), told AFP.

A danger, according to her, aggravated by “the increased presence of bears, which breed” in the Couserans sector. There are currently around 40 plantigrades in this area, she said.

In early August, an incident had already fueled the controversy between pro and anti-bear: a shepherd from the village of Saint-Lary, in Ariège, had been pursued by a bear.

According to the mayor of the village, Gérard Dubuc, it was the first time “that a shepherd was attacked by a bear, since the brown bear reintroduction program was initiated in the 1990s “.

Yet according to Alain Servat, the president of the Pastoral Federation of Ariège (FPA), these incidents have become “the daily life of shepherds today”. He asks “that the State take drastic decisions”.

Opponents of the bear are calling for the slaughter of aggressive bears, and at their head the breeders, who deplore numerous predations of sheep, now say they fear for the safety of men.

Rare Bear Loads

On the pro-bear side, a collective, which brings together associations such as WWF, France Nature Environnement (FNE), Ferus or even Pays de l’ours-Adet, denounced “a”collective hysteria “, stressing that there were no injuries during this confrontation in August.

The collective deplored in a press release that the rare bear charges – there were nine from 1996 to 2021, with one injured – make more noise than “at least 23 injured hikers or hunters, mostly seriously, and one killed , by cattle in summer pastures “between 2010 and 2020.

As the brown bear is threatened with extinction on its territory, France launched a program in the 1990s to reintroduce plantigrades from Slovenia. They are currently about sixty in the Pyrenees, which does not ensure the sustainability of the species.

In 2020, three bears were illegally killed in the Pyrenees, two in Spain and one in France. The French government has pledged to replace any bear killed by human hands with reintroductions, while breeders strongly oppose it.

In November 2004, the death of Canelle, killed by a hunter in the Aspe Valley, in the Pyrenees, sparked a wave of protests in France. She was the last bear of purely Pyrenean stock. It was after his death, the government put in place its plan to “strengthen the population of brown bears in the Pyrenees”. The number of bears in the massif was then estimated at less than twenty.

The hunter René Marqueze who killed her had claimed to have fired only as a last resort, after having tried to avoid the animal on several occasions. Indicted in a complaint where the State and 19 environmental associations had brought civil proceedings, he was finally dismissed.

Another bear was killed in a hunting accident in 1997 on the Pyrenean foothills of Melles (Haute Garonne). This is Melba, an intuition from Slovenia. She had given birth to three cubs before being killed.

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