France commune

Hunter shoots bear fatally in southwest France after biting it

A hunter shot dead a bear in southwestern France after he bit it during a wild boar hunt. The hunter is now in critical condition at Toulouse hospital.

The 70-year-old man participated yesterday (Saturday, November 20) in a bear hunt in the town of Seix in Ariège, in Occitanie.

He reported that he was attacked by a bear, which was with his cubs. The female bear bit him on the leg, seriously damaging his femoral artery, around 3:30 p.m., said the mountain gendarmerie rescue team, the high mountain gendarmerie platoon (PGHM).

The injured man then fired twice at the animal. The bear was later found dead a few meters from where the man was rescued.

The man was transported to Foix hospital, before being transferred to Toulouse University Hospital.

A departmental investigation was opened into the circumstances of the accident.

Christine Tequi, president of the Ariège departmental council, told AFP: “This is what we are always afraid of. Cohabitation [between humans and bears] it is complicated.”

She said the risks are even higher due to “the increased presence of bears that have cubs” in the mountainous area of ​​the Couserans massif.

This incident is the latest in a series of hunting accidents to have made headlines in recent months.

Read more: Senate to debate hunting rules as another accident occurs in France

The presence of bears in the Pyrenees is controversial. In June last year, another bear was found killed in Ariège, believed to have been the work of local farmers who say the bears threaten their livestock and livelihoods.

In January of last year, President Emmanuel Macron visited the Pyrenean city of Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) and pledged to stop all bear releases scheduled for 2018-2028.

But pro-bear groups said it is not enforceable because the release and maintenance of the bear population in France “is a European obligation”.

At the time, Alain Reynès, president of the pro-bear association Pays de l’Ours-Adet, which fights for the preservation and the continuation of the reintroduction of bears in the French Pyrenees, declared: “We have an obligation legal in France to restore a [bear] population.”

Bears are a protected species and there are currently around 40 to 50 of them in the Pyrenees.

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