Anti-bear group softens its stance on reintroductions

Cet article est également disponible en: French

European brown bear

European brown bear (photo: © Francis C. Franklin, Wikipedia)


The ASPAP* is no longer demanding that bears be removed from the Pyrenees. The association, set up in January 2006 to protest at the second wave of reintroductions of bears from Slovenia, had been unwavering in its stance. But despite the recent loss of 209 sheep following an attack in the high Ariège it has now has officially changed its stance.


Goiat, Slovenian bear released in the Catalan Pyrenees in 2016

Goiat, Slovenian bear released in the Catalan Pyrenees in 2016

Instead of eliminating the bears, it suggests the creation of a reserve for them somewhere between the Val d’Aran (Catalonia, Spain) and the Couserans (Ariège, France) in the central Pyrenees. Philippe Lacube, spokesman for the association and one of the leaders of the anti-bear movement, has been influenced by a visit to the Trentin (Abruzzes, Italy) – where there are about 50 bears – and also by the situation in the Asturias (Spain).

He suggests that the mountains could be divided into three: an area where both humans and farm animals are excluded; an area where the presence of predators would be tolerated; and an exclusion zone where bears would no longer be allowed to roam (and sheep would be safe).


Transhumance on the Plateau de Beille

Transhumance on the Plateau de Beille


He proposes feeding the bears in the reserve to keep them in place. Although the area wouldn’t be enclosed by a barrier there could be guards to ensure that walkers didn’t enter it, as in Italy.

In today’s Dépêche du Midi Philippe Lacube, speaking for the association, says:

“It breaks my heart to suggest this but there is no other solution. Who can now believe that the 40 bears will be removed? Who can believe that the tactic of frightening them will have any other effect than sending them onto a neighbouring mountain?”

Rémy Denjean, another member of the association says that this stance, approved unanimously by the association’s committee, means that they will accept “the concession of a part of the territory to avoid rewilding of the whole of the Pyrenees”.

* Association pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine d’Ariège-Pyrénées. Note that the official site has been hacked.

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