Nearly 170 sheep were found dead in a mountain pasture in southwest France after they threw themselves into the void, with breeders pointing to the bear’s responsibility, while plant advocates stress the lack of evidence.
“There is no doubt that 168 sheep have thrown themselves into the void, and there must be something behind them that pushes them,” the head of the department’s pastoral federation told AFP on Tuesday.
“We did not know the rocks before the existence of the bear,” he stressed.
For him, the only solution is for the French state to “make today a decision that ‘coexistence (with a bear) is no longer possible”.
“How many more tragedies before real solutions are presented to us?” The Association for the Protection of the Heritage of the Arij Pyrenees (ASPAP) expressed on its Facebook page, where it published pictures of dozens of dead sheep.
The same indignation on the part of the chief of the province of Areej, where the majority of bears live in the Pyrenees.
“I am outraged that the day-to-day work of our educators is being undermined by a deaf person asking for help,” Kristin Tekei wrote on her Facebook page.
The day after the excavation, which took place on Sunday, teams from the French Biodiversity Office made observations on the spot.
“In most of the excavations, over the course of 20 years, the results showed that there was no indication of bear predation,” asserts Alain Raines, director of the Association Pays de l’ours-Adet.
“Anything can bring down a flock, or a dog, or a boar, or a storm…but only if it is the bear, or if we allow people to think it is the bear, it will be compensated (…) even in the absence of indications of predation” , he adds, denouncing the “corruption of the system.”
Many breeders, hunters and local elected officials oppose the presence of the bear in the Pyrenees, which is defended by the state and associations for the defense of biodiversity.
While the plant’s flora has practically disappeared from this mountain range, a program to bring back brown bears from Slovenia began in the 1990s.
Today, they number about 70, according to the French authorities, mainly in the middle of the Pyrenees, in Areges on the French side, in Val d’Aran on the Spanish side.
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