Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bad News for the Bears

(I found this article on our French Internet home page this morning. I fed it into Babblefish and then translated that into real English. So proceed with caution. Some defintions and comments are in brackets.)

The bear Franska, which represented a good part of the dissatisfaction caused by the reintroduction with bears in the Pyrenees, was killed accidentally by a car in the Hautes-Pyrénées, we learned Thursday from the secretariat of State to Ecology. The collision occurred on the RN21 near Viger, approximately 5 kilometers in the south of Lourdes, said the local gendarmerie, thus confirming information on the radio. The circumstances of the accident were not very clear as of Thursday morning. The driver of the vehicle would be out of danger, according to the ministry. [Oh, thank goodness the driver is safe.] This Slovenien bear had been released on April 28, 2006 on the commune of Bagnères-of-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées). It had attacked herds of sheep on several occasions, killing nearly 150 ewes. The animal weighed 110 kilogrammes [242 pounds] prior to its release. The Slovenien authorities had evaluated its age at seven years, but it could have in fact been much older.

Many stockbreeders, as relayed by their elected officials, advocated for a capture of the plantigrade. [Plantigrade: Walking on the sole of the foot. Having the foot so formed that the heel touches the ground when the leg is upright, or one that walks or steps on the sole of the foot, as man, and the bears.] This option had been rejected at the end of July by the Secretary of State to Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, in a meeting with the "anti-bears" proponents. But she had then promised that in the autumn a mid-course evaluation of the restoration plan of bears in the Pyrenees would take place, which must by law, extend from 2006 to 2009. Franska had been released in the Pyrenees with four other plantigrades also captured in Slovenia. One of the bears, Palouma, had been found dead a few weeks later, apparently victim of an accidental fall. Before the arrival of the Slovenien bears, the Pyrenees did not count any more that 14 to 18 bears. There were hundreds a century ago.


nancy said...

The media had transformed Franska into a killing machine of supernatural proportions, thereby striking fear into every household associated with sheep along the Pyrenees border. I can't help but think that the 'accident' causing Franska's death was more than just an accident...but that's just the non-believer in me.

Anonymous said...

Wow...150 ewes sounds like a lot of dead sheep...It sounds like a high number to me...but what I know about livestock and wild animals could be put in a thimble!

I was "rooting" for Franska's survival! And poor Palouma...falling down and dying. These bears have had very bad luck since they arrived in the Pyrenees!

Doug said...

The death of Palouma and Franska is a reduction of 5 to 10 percent of the bears. The death of 150 sheep might register at .0000000005% of the sheep in this part of France. There lies the difference. That, and that the bears are native (or were) to the Pryrenees and are being pushed to the brink of extinction by loss of habitat. Same old story, I'm afraid, that is taking place in the lower 48, just on a smaller scale. There is no shortage of sheep, nor of sheeple, oops I mean people in the world, but there is a shortage of wild critters. That's why I'm not worried about 150 ewes or the health of the driver that killed Franska.