France to Release Bear in Pyrenees Mountains
At one time, there were hundreds of bears in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. Now there are only about 37 bears in one small region of the Pyrenees, and there are two male bears that live by themselves in a separate area of the Pyrenees. In the past, the bears had been hunted to the point of extinction, but reintroduction efforts in previous years led to there being at least a few bears left.
In order to help the bear population to grow in the Pyrenees, the French environment minister plans to reintroduce two female bears into the region were the two isolated male bears live. It is hoped that the bears will breed and create a second sustainable population of bears in the Pyrenees.
It will take a few months before the female bears are introduced. The French government will consult with other nations in the region in an effort to find two suitable female bears from a sustainable population. The French government wants to find two female bears that are in excellent health who will not be harmed by being transported to a new home.
While the bear reintroduction is being welcomed by wildlife conservationists around the world, some of the local farmers where the bears live are not very happy. The farmers contend that the bears kill and eat their sheep. They claim that since the bears have been reintroduced in the Pyrenees, 450 sheep have been killed. The farmers are compensated if it is proven that the bears did indeed harm the sheep.
French environmental officials stated that they will consult with farmers and work to alleviate their concerns. However, as Nicolas Hulot the environment minister pointed out, the French government cannot ask other countries to preserve predator species for future generations if France is not willing to do the same thing.
Other predators have been reintroducing themselves into France lately. It has been confirmed that wolves from a pack in Italy have moved into France, and the pack is growing and spreading out. Farmers are expressing concerns, but the wolves are not allowed to be hunted.
While farmers may not be happy about the bear reintroduction, the general population is. 84 percent of those polled in France favor bringing more bears into the Pyrenees.
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