Released Pyrénées bears 'in perfect health'

Animals released into wild in October remain on French side of mountains, despite efforts of local farmers and hunters to scare them into Spain

Two brown bears that were released into the wild in the Pyrénées in early October are "in perfect health" on the French side of the mountains, according to the Office national de la chasse et de la faune sauvage (ONCFS).

The bears - known as Claverina and Sorita - were released on October 5 in the Ossau Valley, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, despite opposition from local farmers, some of whom teamed up with hunters in a bid to scare the bears to the Spanish side of the mountains.

Locals had earlier blockaded roads to prevent the animals' arrival - forcing officials to release them at 'alternative sites' in the Ossau and Aspe valleys.

The two females, which have GPS collars have 'moved around a lot' in their first few weeks in their new territories, the ONCFS said, and are now preparing to hibernate over the winter.

A total 43 bears now live in the wild in the Pyrenees, officials said, following earlier reintroductions in 1996 and 2006. But the population 'is not yet completely viable', the ONCFS has said.

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