As an elderly hunter lies mangled in a hospital, the French Pyrenees community remains in an uproar over the culling of a particular brown bear.
Brown bears have existed in the Pyrenees for millennia. But by the end of the 19th century, modern man had all but wiped out the species and usurped their territory.
Today, the rejuvenation of the brown bear on all sides of the historic mountain range is a topic of fierce debate. Local Outsiders respect the species as an integral part of their ancient ecosystem. But just like any other bear country on Earth, there’s a considerable amount of danger that comes alongside cohabitating with bears. Which is exactly why the French Pyrenees are currently in an uproar over the culling of a particular brown bear.
However a person feels about the scenario, the truth remains. A 70-year-old hunter is currently fighting for his life after being mauled by a brown bear in the area. The encounter, which took place over the weekend, left the bear dead. The hunter shot the bruin in self defense. It was either him or the bear.
According to Le Figaro, the elderly hunter was stalking boar near Seix en Ariège. The town shares habitat with browns, and the man soon found himself in the company of a few young brown cubs.
Then, as is often the case in these scenarios, he was prey to an ambush. An adult brown ambushed him “from behind,” causing the man several broken bones, shredded calves, and arterial bleeding.
“The bear dragged him more than 30m,” says Jean-Luc Fernandez, president of the Hunting Federation of Ariège. “Fortunately he was able to keep his rifle and was able to defend himself.”
Fortunately, indeed. But the brown was not-so-fortunate.
A Hunter’s Mauling and Brown Bear’s Loss Amidst Fierce Conservation Outcry Leaves Citizens Divided
The key difference in this encounter, however, is that the slain bear was a male – not the cub’s mother. Typically, it’s a protective sow that ends up mangling us humans. Brown bear fathers do not imprint or defend their young. In fact, they tend to kill them off (or even consume them) if the chance presents itself.
To local conservationists, this marks the male brown as a “loss” to rehabilitation efforts. But the hunter, who was transferred to Toulouse University Hospital by the French Gendarmerie mountain rescue, would disagree. So, too, would any Outsider who’s been in a similar life-or-death wildlife encounter.
If there is a silver lining, it is that this boar wasn’t the cubs’ mother. All too often when a cub-bearing sow is killed, young cubs will end up euthanized. Brown bear cubs of only a few months of age stand little-to-no chance of surviving their first winter without their mother. Most wildlife officials and conservationists agree, then, that it is humane to end their suffering before a slow, agonizing death by starvation occurs.
French Pyrenees reports give no status for the cubs, however. We can only hope they survive alongside their mother. But above all, Outsider wishes a speedy recovery to the hunter after his horrific ordeal.