Bear shot dead in French Pyrenees, government to press charges

FILE PHOTO: French Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition Elisabeth Borne leaves the Elysee Presidential Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting, in Paris, France May 27, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – A bear has been shot dead in the French Pyrenees, French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday, adding that the government will press charges.

French authorities have reintroduced bears in the Pyrenees mountain range bordering Spain, but local cattle breeders have protested vigorously, saying the bears attack their herds.

“A bear has been found today in Ariege, killed by bullets. Bears are a protected species, this is an illegal and profoundly reprehensible act. The state will press charges,” Borne said on her Twitter feed, which showed a picture of the dead bear.

In October 2018, France airlifted two bears from Slovenia high into the Pyrenees by helicopter in order to evade roadblocks set up on mountain passes by 150 farmers – some bearing rifles – determined to stymie the reintroduction.

Wildlife experts have estimated there are 43 bears living in the Pyrenees. Bears from Slovenia were first reintroduced into France in the 1990s after hunters all but wiped out the native population.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Gregorio

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