Pyrenees bear killed in road accident

9th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

TARBES, France, Aug 9, 2007 (AFP) - A Slovenian bear branded public enemy number one by sheep farmers after she was let loose in the French Pyrenees as part of a conservation scheme, was killed Thursday in a road accident, police said.

TARBES, France, Aug 9, 2007 (AFP) - A Slovenian bear branded public enemy number one by sheep farmers after she was let loose in the French Pyrenees as part of a conservation scheme, was killed Thursday in a road accident, police said.

Franska the bear was killed in a nighttime collision with a car, on a mountain road around five kilometres (eight miles) south of the Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes, local police said, adding that the driver was unhurt.

Local farmers accused Franska -- one of five brown bears introduced to the mountains in southwestern France last year -- of killing as many as 150 sheep and waged a fierce campaign to have her removed from the region.

The four females and one male joined the local population of 14 to 18 brown bears, all that is left of the hundreds that roamed the mountains only a century ago.

Opposition to the bears has been fierce throughout the programme.

A month after the 110-kilo (243-pound) Franska joined fellow female Palouma in the Pyrenees, authorities found honey-laced glass shards in the mountains planted by anti-bear activists.

Palouma died in August last year after falling from a cliff, prompting farmers to complain the Slovenian bears were ill-adapted to the rocky landscape of the Pyrenees and better suited to the forests.

Further controversy broke out when it emerged that Franska -- who was presented by Slovenia as a six-year-old bear -- was actually closer to 17 and possibly too old to reproduce.

Last month, more than 100 farmers marched on the governor's offices in the southwest town of Tarbes, dropping the carcasses of seven sheep they said were killed by Franska a few days earlier.

Animal rights activists say Franska is no killer and have advised the farmers to get sheep dogs or shepherds to protect their flock.

The bear supporters accuse the farmers of exaggerating the threat posed by Franska and point out that storms and disease are responsible for many times more deaths among livestock than bear attacks.

The state secretary for ecology, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, was due to meet local farmers and conservationists to try to resolve the dispute in the autumn.


AFP

Subject: French news

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