how to live with bears?




Article written by

MC. Delouvrié, D. Breysse, F. Fort – France 2

France Televisions

In June, the French government authorized shooting to ward off bears approaching the herds. If the cohabitation between these animals and humans is delicate, it is however possible when breeders change their habits. Report in Ariège.

A space of freedom and fresh grass, at an altitude of 1,600 m: this is what the four summer months should look like for this Pyrenean herd of 900 ewes. But the summer got off to a bad start for them and their shepherd, Aymeric Lefebvre, under constant pressure. “As soon as we have a sheep that is outside, we worry because she could be caught“, he says.

The presence of the bear has completely changed the habits of breeders. The tradition of the summer pasture would like them to leave their animals alone. However, they are forced to lock them up at night, and come to see them once a week, in order to count them. “It’s the stress, because of the bear. It’s the constant stress, every Sunday, to know how many animals we will miss“, confides Julien Beaufils.

That morning, the account is not there: 22 animals are missing from a breeder. If the carcasses are not found and attributed to the bear, they will not be compensated. “There is an anger that sets in, which sows the wind recipes the storm. It’s going to end very badly“, warns Gilbert Guichard, breeder. Thanks to state aid, an electrified park has made it possible to reduce the number of attacks.

Some shepherds, like Christian Balthasar, believe in the cohabitation of the bear and the sheep. On his last summer pasture, he managed to protect himself from attacks, thanks to four dogs that he raised himself in his sheepfold, and an electrified park.

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