Hunting ban in W Pyrenees to protect bear cub

3rd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

OLORON-SAINTE-MARIE, France, Nov 3 (AFP) - French authorities on Wednesday banned hunting in a section of the Pyrenees mountains in order to protect a bear-cub whose mother was killed in controversial circumstances by a party of hunters.

OLORON-SAINTE-MARIE, France, Nov 3 (AFP) - French authorities on Wednesday banned hunting in a section of the Pyrenees mountains in order to protect a bear-cub whose mother was killed in controversial circumstances by a party of hunters.

Under the decree from the prefect of the Pyrenees-Atlantique department at the western end of the range that separates France and Spain, dog-walkers will also be barred access to a "tranquillity zone" near the villages of Urdos and Etsaut.

The brown bear cub fled into forest when its mother - known to game wardens as Cannelle - was shot on Monday. The six hunters claimed they acted in self-defence, but environmentalists accused them of deliberately selecting an area where they knew Cannelle had been spotted.

President Jacques Chirac lent his voice to the outcry over the bear's death, describing it Wednesday as a "great loss for biodiversity."

Cannelle was the only female bear in the Pyrenees of indigenous stock.

Apart from two other males, the others are either animals or the offspring of animals imported from Slovenia in the 1990s. Altogether there are about 15 bears in the range, in three sub-groups.

Officials said Cannelle's cub was about 10 months old and that it has a reasonable chance of survival. "It is not a tiny baby. There is plenty of food.

If it is not disturbed its chances of survival are good," said the department's prefect Philippe Gregoire.

Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier was to visit the sector where the bear was killed on Thursday. A judicial investigation has been opened to determine any criminal liability.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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