Hunter who killed bear in Pyrenees will not face charges, rules court

The decision in Spain is likely to be closely considered in France, where an investigation into a similar fatal bear shooting is still ongoing

Sarousse, the bear that was killed, was one of the 40-50 brown bears currently in the Pyrenees mountain range
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A hunter who killed the Pyrenees bear Sarousse in November 2020 will not face charges after a court in Spain found he was acting in self-defence.

The incident took place on November 29, 2020, during a boar hunt organised by locals around the Turbón region of northern Spain.

Sarousse was a young bear, aged 21, which was born in Slovenia and was freed in France in 2010. The bear eventually settled in Catalonia, northern Spain, in the Turbón mountain range.

The court of Boltaña (Aragon) decided not to charge the hunter, saying he acted in self-defence due to there being nowhere for him to escape the bear at the time.

A statement read: “[The hunter] was trying to protect his life by using a firearm, faced with the imminent threat of a bear attack, and being chased by hunting dogs running in his direction.”

The decision will likely be closely considered in France, where an investigation is still ongoing into a similar fatal bear killing in Seix, Ariège (Occitanie), on November 20, 2021.

Read more:Hunter fatally shoots bear in southwest France after it bit him

The Foix (a commune in Occitanie) prosecutor has opened the inquiry into alleged “hunting contraventions in a wild animal hunting reserve, and hunting on someone else’s land without permission”.

The presence of bears in the Pyrenees has proved controversial with farmers in France regularly claiming that the animals threaten their livestock and livelihood.

Yet, pro-bear and ecological groups say that the release and maintenance of the bear population in France is a European obligation. Bears are a protected species, and there are currently around 40-50 in the Pyrenees range.

Hikers and mountain path users are also offered advice on how to safely use the areas and what to do if you see a bear.

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