Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yellowstone Deja Vu

On April 28, 2006, two Slovenia brown bears (Franska and Polouma) were released deep in the Pyrenees mountains as part of an on-going reintroduction project in France. The bear population dwindled to the teens, down from hundreds a century ago. Loss of habitat and indiscriminate hunting over the years have been cited as primary reasons. We were down here in Leran on our first visit at the time and tried to decipher much information as possible. Farmers and shepherds were up in arms because they feared for their stock, their children, and their dogs. Huge protests, including tractors and sheep blocked roads and surrounded government buildings in defiance of the reintroduction program. Hikers found jars left on the ground labeled "Anti-Bear Poison" that turned out to be honey laced with ground-up glass---a sweet welcome. It was like being back in Yellowstone during the wolf reintroduction.

I was in the Leran boulangerie the other day and the headlines of La Depeche, the daily newspaper of the Midi-Pyrenees, caught my eye. It was something about the "OURSE FRANSKA!" Franska was being heavily pursued. Since she had emerged from hibernation, a whopping 93 ewes had been killed; and Franska was #1 on the suspect list. The latest mass murder down the road in Orlu pushed the stockmen over the edge and they hauled the carcasses of the dead ewes with them and dumped them at the door of the environmental director as a way of illustrating that 'this nonsense cannot continue'. No one had actually seen Franska do any of the killing, so she was really just wanted for questioning I presume.

The situation has become increasingly tense over the past few days as Franska continues to outwit the local posse. An official decree has been issued to capture her and relocate her deeper into the Pyrenees where she has less chance of mingling with sheep....and people. If indeed Franska is the guilty party, one way or another her days are probably numbered. Problem bears and wolves captured outside Yellowstone were relocated in the Park hundreds of miles from their former habitat, and sometimes reappeared within short periods of time right back where they were before capture. As long as bears and wolves don't attack humans in Yellowstone, they can come and go as they please. Leave the park and the rules of society engage. This is how it is for Franska and the Pyrenees bears---DON'T KILL MY SHEEP! Franska may have stuck her foot in the honey jar one too many times.


Judy said...

Nancy; I feel like you have left us "hanging' because nothing more has been mentioned about the deuxieum etage. We know from the pictures that you have new floor joists of fir.
Have you laid a sub floor? Is there going to be a finish floor on top of that? What material will that be? How large is the deuxieum etage? 16 x16, 18 x 18 or larger. I thought at one time you mentioned you were going to add a second bathroom up there.
And you also talked about how some people turned part of this attic floor into a roof garden. Any plans for that sort of thing?
Does the ground floor consist of a sitting room and a kitchen; second floor 2 bedrooms and a bath? I'm trying to get a mental picture of the make-up of rooms or potential rooms. Judy

Doug said...

So many questions, Judy. Fear not. We will address these issues shortly. We have a quasi-architect drawing plans for a roof top terrace and a lot hinges upon what he designs. Soon we will show pictures. I guess you are having trouble picturing the house layout and we will try to give you enough photos to satisfy you. We are partially done with the floor. It has a sub-floor and drywall has been hung but not finished. As I say, we await the results of the plans before we do too much more.

Harley said...

I was very interested in the saga of Franska. It reminded me that Anderson Cooper recently did a piece on CNN on the successful reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. He and Doug Smith described concisely but clearly the positive ecological benefits that have resulted from having the wolves there for the past ten years. I couldn't find a link to the video on the web, although there is a video of a much more casual exchange between Anderson and Doug on YouTube that was probably filmed at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Poor Fransca...her days may be numbered...but since she has so far eluded her captors she must be "one smart bear"! And Polouma would be so lonely if his "running buddy" was captured!

The area the bears are inhabiting is probably much smaller than Yellowstone so the sheep are probably close by...and so tempting...and "a bear's got to do what a bear's got to do". It's tough to make those ecological decisions to decide which species get the use of the land...especially since the numbers of humans and their domesticated animals are growing exponentially. Luke doesn't have the answers...but I must admit that I am "rooting" for Franska to hold her ground.

I look forward to hearing about the further adventures of the bears.