France commune

French mayor bans mountain hikes after bear attacks

According to Alain Servat, mayor of the municipality of Ustou, “every evening herds of sheep are attacked. We are up to 80 sheep recognized as having been attacked by predators ”, reported the newspaper 20 minutes.

Four brown bears – a female, her two cubs and an adult bear – attacked a flock of sheep near the Guzet-Neige ski resort in the French Pyrenees earlier this week (July 15).

Three officers from the National Biodiversity Office (OFB) were on site and attempted to scare the four bears, “with great difficulty,” local newspaper La Depeche reported.

The Ariège prefecture has asked the French Biodiversity Office to initiate the “problem bear” procedure. Reinforcements (support shepherds), OFB agents, will now be deployed in the area.

Citing a threat to people, Mr. Servat has now banned hiking in the Ustou region, which overlooks the Cirque de Cagateille, a popular destination for hikers in the summer season.

Bear attacks on livestock are an increasingly common problem in the French Pyrenees. According to European Wilderness Society, a pan-European environmental non-governmental organization, the number of bear attacks has increased from a total of 164 in 2018 to 214 in 2019.

The NGO’s website says residents and environmentalists in the Pyrenees region have been arguing over bears for years.

“The government recognizes the bear as one of the crucial species for preserving the biodiversity of the region. Therefore, French bears are strictly protected in the region, so no hunting is allowed, ”the NGO reported.

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