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Flood-hit farmers want rid of bear

Anti-bear group threatens to kill animal they say is attacking sheep in Pyrenees near worst-hit areas

LIVESTOCK farmers in the Hautes-Pyrénées have threatened to kill a bear which they say is attacking their flocks in the high mountains as they try to recover from last week’s floods.

Luz-Saint-Sauveur farmers’ leader Marie-Lise Broueilh said the floods had “destroyed everything: ground, buildings – there’s no life left” and with the mammoth task ahead of them they faced a double penalty of a bear “snacking on our flocks”.

Ms Broueilh said that with everyone working to clear up the flood damage there was no one to protect the sheep which were part of the AOP Barèges-Gavarnie and she called on the prefect to order that the bear be captured and moved to another location.

However, Bruno Besch-Commenge, spokesman for anti-bear and pro-development group ADDIP, went further and threatened the prefect in La Dépêche, saying: “You get rid of this bear in 48 hours or we will kill it!”

Last week’s floods left Barèges as a ghost town after residents were ordered to evacuate. Seven houses were destroyed and it is feared up to 300 holiday apartments will have to be demolished. The road to the village was washed away and the only access is by the Col du Tourmalet.

Nearby villages suffered all but the same fate and work to restore roads alone is expected to take weeks, if not months. One, Cauterets, is totally cut off and residents are getting supplies by helicopter since the river washed the road away.

* Meanwhile, at Sigean in Aude, a Tibetan bear has escaped from an animal reserve and residents have been told to keep rubbish bins inside their houses in case the bear is attracted to them in its hunt for food. Dozens of police, gendarmes, pompiers and forestry officials are hunting the 1.60m bear; which was spotted by a kite-surfer on the Mediterranean shore near the resort.
Photo: ONCFS automatic camera

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