No more shooting to scare Pyrenees bears, French court rules

Tensions over the presence of brown bears in the Pyrenees have run high for decades. Photo: AFPAFP/The
@thelocalfrance6 February 202115:26 CET+01:00Livestock owners in the French Pyrenees can no longer fire warning shots to scare off endangered bears, a court ruled on Friday, handing a victory to animal rights groups who warned of the risk of accidental deaths.

Tensions over the presence of brown bears in mountains separating France and Spain have run high since a re-introduction effort was launched in the mid-1990s.

Farmers were furious when the government stepped up its efforts with a 10-year “bear plan” in 2018, mounting fierce protests when the first female was brought in by helicopter that year.

They say the warning shots are needed to keep the predators from killing sheep and other livestock or destroying bee hives, and authorities began allowing them on a trial basis in 2019.

But the State Council, the country’s top administrative court, struck down the measure after around a dozen pro-bear associations filed a complaint.

It said warning shots are not compatible with “maintaining the populations in their natural environment.”

Contacted by AFP, the environment ministry did not immediately comment.

In a joint statement, the associations welcomed the ruling, saying the decree “made it possible to get around the ban on intentionally disturbing a protected species.”

Three bears were killed in the Pyrenees last year, including one by a hunter who said he acted in self-defence.

In January, the European Commission called on France to rapidly carry out new re-introductions to replace them, as called for in its “bear plan.” There are about 50 bears currently in the Pyrenees, and French officials have said early indications point to a reduction in the number of livestock killed by them last year, after 1,173 animals were killed and 36 bee hives destroyed in 2019. READ ALSO: Shepherds on French-Spanish border fear that bears will strike again

What Biden Means for Bears

ABiden victory likely signals a sea change in federal policy approaches in ways that should be beneficial for large mammals like grizzly bears. While Biden may not have a grizzly-policy per se, his platform addresses key issues—such as climate change and conservation—that will impact the health of grizzlies as a part of the large landscapes of the Mountain West. 

Here’s a quick primer on where we expect positive changes:

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

In 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the removal of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48, which strikingly, would have allowed grizzlies to be trophy hunted in the Mountain West. The decision was quickly challenged in the courts and overturned in 2018; in July of 2020, courts again ruled that the approximately 3,000 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho would remain listed and protected. 

These battles have been part of a larger campaign to weaken the Endangered Species Act over the last four years, in which the Trump administration has made it more difficult to protect species and removed protections from animals listed as ‘threatened’ under the ESA. And it’s not just bears who’ve been the target: in October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife removed all ESA protections for gray wolves in the Lower 48

Under a Biden administration, we are unlikely to see further efforts to delist the grizzly. We will also likely see a halt in attacks on the ESA, as the President-elect has committed to upholding and building new coalitions to support the act. 

Public Lands & Conservation 

As part of the cabinet, the Secretary of the Interior is appointed by the president, and oversees succeeding government agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. These agencies’ on-the-ground work significantly impacts the conservation (or lack thereof) of our public lands and the creatures who roam through those areas.

Trump appointed fossil-fuel lobbyist Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, and (after Zinke resigned due to financial scandal) David Berndhardt, a former oil executive. Under Zinke and Berndhardt, the Interior has made drastic moves to open up public lands to new oil and gas wells, logging, mineral extraction, livestock leasing, and other development. 

Under a Biden administration, we can expect presidentially-appointed officials who more genuinely support conservation over development. Additionally, Biden has committed to banning new oil and gas development on public lands. While there isn’t much research vis-a-vis fracking’s impact on grizzlies, energy development comes hand-in-hand with new road building, and as a 2019 study from the University of Alberta showed, more roads simply equals fewer grizzlies. “Not only do bears die near roads,” commented author of the study, Clayton Lamb, to Science Daily, but “bears also avoid these areas, making many habitats with roads through them less effective.” 

Not to be overlooked, the Biden-Harris platform also includes conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. This “30 by 30” goal is ambitious; according to Scientific American, however, it could have bipartisan support under a Biden Administration and is considered by many to be the “last best hope for saving many of the United States’ iconic species and wild places.”

Climate Change 

The argument that succeeded in keeping grizzlies on the Endangered Species List hinged on  climate change, and specifically, uncertainty around how bears would respond to declines in whitebark pine seeds. The seeds are an important food source for bears and are diminishing due to warming-accelerated beetle infestations, shrinking habitable territory, and intensifying wildfire cycles. 

Whether because of shifting seasonality and abundance of food sources, or the negative impacts of warming on hibernation, there are climate-related threats facing grizzlies, and we don’t yet know how bears will fare in a warmer future. 

President Trump has an equivocally poor record on climate policies and environmental protections. His administration has rolled back nearly 100 environmental rules, in sectors ranging from wildlife protections to drilling to air pollution. In contrast, Biden has committed to re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstating regulations on methane pollution from fracking, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. 

In fact, Biden’s 2 trillion dollar climate plan is arguably the most progressive in presidential history. His ability to enact such a climate plan will be limited if the Senate remains Republican, but we can still expect the President-elect to use his executive powers to restore environmental rules and to pursue other pathways towards climate progress. And the more we limit warming, the more species and ecosystems we preserve, which on the big-picture scale is good news for grizzlies. 

In short, we’re relieved and enthusiastic to look ahead to days in which the large landscapes of the West—an integral element of our communities and culture—are valued for the immense, irreplaceable resources that they are.

What not to do in a bear attack? Push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself, says the National Park Service

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 1:24 PM ET, Sat August 8, 2020

What to do if you encounter a bear

(CNN)If you’re being confronted by a bear, there’s a few things you should know before running away.As people across the country visiting parks and taking trips to the mountains find themselves in terrifying encounters with bears, the National Park Service (NPS) has offered a few tips on what to do if you’re face-to-face with the furry beasts.The first tip? “Please don’t run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself,” the NPS joked in a Facebook post Wednesday.⁣⁣The best thing to do to safely remove yourself from a bear confrontation is move away slowly and sideways so you can keep an eye on the bear without tripping. Bears are not threatened when you move sideways, but like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.Content by CNN UnderscoredFace masks that support a good causeFace masks have become our new normal, and with these masks, you can make sure you’re doing even more good than usual.″Do not climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.⁣⁣ Do not push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course),” the NPS added. “Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all?”Another tip is to identify yourself by making noise, specifically your voice, so the bear doesn’t confuse you for an animal and knows you’re human. While a curious bear might come closer or stand on its hind legs to examine and smell you, it is not threatening.

A bear attacks a woman. She fights it off -- with her laptop

A bear attacks a woman. She fights it off — with her laptopWhile bear attacks are rare, their behaviors can be unpredictable and an attack can lead to serious injuries or death, according to the NPS.To avoid an encounter with a bear, hike and travel in groups, do not allow bears access to your food and leave the area if you see a bear.If you are attacked by a brown or grizzly bear, leave your backpack on and play dead by laying flat on your stomach with your hands behind your neck and legs spread. If the bear continues to attack you, fight back by hitting the bear in the face.If you are being attacked by a black bear, do not play dead but instead try to escape to a secure place or if you can’t, fight back using any available object, according to NPS.⁣⁣

Huge black bear spotted relaxing in a pool is one big summer mood

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

Updated 2:10 PM ET, Sat July 25, 2020A large black bear wandered into Regina Keller's yard and decided to stay awhile. A large black bear wandered into Regina Keller’s yard and decided to stay awhile.

(CNN)A woman in Virginia was delighted when a large black bear decided to take a nap in a kiddie pool she had in her backyard.Regina Keller, no stranger to bears, has been taking pictures of the wildlife in her backyard for 12 years.Her home is remote and backs up to the George Washington National Forest in Fort Valley, Virginia, so she is used to a variety of furry visitors including deer, bears, foxes, and squirrels.On July 19, she was watering her flowers when a large male bear wandered into her yard.

Two bear cubs rescued in Sudbury after mom is killed by a vehicle

Darren MacDonaldCTV News Northern Ontario Digital Content Producer

@Darrenmacd ContactPublished Thursday, July 16, 2020 2:19PM EDTLast Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020 6:59PM EDT

bear cubs

The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year. (Supplied)

SUDBURY — Two bear cubs have been taken to an animal sanctuary after their mother was killed by a vehicle in the Sudbury community of Garson last week.

A social media post by the city on Thursday said after their mom was killed, the two cubs scrambled up a tree in a nearby park.

“City parks staff spotted the cubs and called in Greater Sudbury Police and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to help,” the city said. “These two beautiful cubs are in safe hands today after a frightening and tragic ordeal.”

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The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year.

A photo of the snoozing little bruins after they were captured and also posted on social media by the city.

“Thanks to everyone who helped give these two cubs a safe and happy outcome!” the city said. 

Woman encounters black bear in southwest Calgary: ‘I thought my dog was going to be torn apart’

ByCarolyn Kury de Castillo Global NewsPosted June 27, 2020 4:58 pm Updated June 27, 2020 8:32 pm

WATCH: A woman in southwest Calgary is thankful her dog is still alive after an encounter with a bear on Wednesday. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

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Some people living in the southwest Calgary community of Springbank Hill are being a bit more cautious as they walk outside after video of a black bear in the area was captured on Wednesday.

The video shows a bear walking on a front driveway and scampering onto a front lawn and into a treed area.

Stephanie d’Obrenan grew up in Springbank Hill and loves walking her dog Todd there.

“We’ve seen moose here before and never bears,” d’Obrenan said Saturday.

READ MORE: Southwest Calgary residents on alert as bear spotted in area

But on Wednesday afternoon, Todd darted ahead of her while they were walking on Slopeview Drive.

“He goes flying after something. I look and I see these big brown ears and this big brown face and I am like, ‘My dog is going right towards a bear,’” d’Obrenan recalled.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

A black bear popped out of the trees and came within two metres of Todd, according to d’Obrenan.

“I was screaming bloody murder. I was pretty frantic. I’ve never been so terrified. I thought my dog was going to be torn apart and eaten right in front of me,” d’Obrenan said.TWEET THIS

Her first reaction was to save her pet.

“It was absolutely terrifying and I go sprinting after him and I am very aware that I am running towards a bear at this moment. This is probably not the best idea,” d’Obrenan said.

A bear was caught on camera in southwest Calgary this week.
A bear was caught on camera in southwest Calgary this week. Courtesy: Manoj Sharma

She scooped up Todd in her arms while the bear went down into the ravine. At that point, neighbours called her to come inside.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can come face to face with a bear and try to save your pet, which is just like a child,” said Manoj Sharma, who urged d’Obrenan to get in his house to stay safe from the bear.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE: Black bear dines on bird seeds in Calgary backyard: ‘He’s just doing bear stuff’

The bear ended up coming back, crossing the road and slipping into Sharma’s backyard. That’s when Sharma caught the bruin on camera.“Every time I look at the video, it’s [scarier] because now if my kids come out to play, I don’t let them come out by themselves,” Sharma said.

Calgary Fish and Wildlife officers have received several reports of a cinnamon phase black bear travelling around the area by Lower Spring Bank Road.

READ MORE: Doorcam video: Mother bear, spotting opportunity, breaks into minivan at B.C. resort

According to Fish and Wildlife, officers tracked the bear and determined it has mostly been staying within the green spaces and has not been showing signs of habituated or defensive behaviour.

As of Friday, a spokesperson for Fish and Wildlife said the last confirmed sighting was near Discovery Ridge and Lower Spring Bank Road on June 24 at 4 p.m. There have been no additional reports since.

Officers are continuing to monitor the situation but a provincial Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said there are no public safety concerns at this point.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE: White grizzly named by Bow Valley residents

As for d’Obrenan, she is thankful her French bulldog is still with her after his big adventure.

“I think anyone who loves their dog would probably do the same and try to get their dog. He’s my baby,” d’Obrenan said.

Residents who encounter a bear that may be a public safety concern are advised to report the incident to the nearest Fish and Wildlife office at 310-0000 or the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.RELATED NEWS

Albanian restaurant serves bear meat in illegal wildlife trade that’s ‘out of control’

Stop the Wildlife Trade exclusive: Bears, monkeys, wolves and birds of prey sold for hundreds of euros on popular Albanian websites, investigation finds

A cub kept by a hotel owner to attract tourists - a common practice in Albania

A cub kept by a hotel owner to attract tourists – a common practice in Albania ( Four Paws )

A restaurant in Albania is offering diners meat from illegally hunted bears – part of an illicit trade in wildlife that is “out of control” in the country, investigators claim.

Researchers said it was the first time they had seen bear meat cooked in Europe, and experts warned that the crude butchering of animals may lead to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as coronavirus.

Bears, monkeys and birds of prey are among live animals being sold on popular Albanian online marketplaces, the investigation found, raising fears for the survival of some species in the country.

Animal-protection charity Four Paws discovered that two of Albania’s leading online sites were carrying dozens of adverts selling brown bears and other species that are legally protected.

Many photographs of the animals – along with foxes, barn owls and wolves – showed them with their mouths taped up or their claws chained.

It’s a profitable business: a tiny capuchin monkey was offered for €750 (£675), and a barn owl, a bear cub and a wolf for €500 each.

The buyers are mostly restaurant and hotel owners who keep the animals to attract tourists, or individuals who want the animals as pets and status symbols, charity workers said.

Eagles, the national symbol of Albania, are especially popular with buyers and are often found stuffed as trophies in public places.

The menu featuring mish ariu – bear meat (PPNEA)

But hunting protected species, keeping them captive and selling them is banned in Albania, following a huge decline of native wildlife in the country.

Offenders may be jailed under the law, which was tightened in October, but enforcement of it is lax.

Four Paws said that after its team reported some of the illegal adverts, they were deleted but new ones reappeared.

“A large majority of the photographs displayed severe animal cruelty, such as foxes with sealed muzzles in plastic boxes, bear cubs in chains and birds with their feet tied,” said Barbara van Genne, of the chaity.

A tiny capuchin monkey on sale for €750 (Four Paws)

Monkeys and birds of prey are often kept in bars and restaurants in Albania as a tourist attraction, while foxes are sold for their fur, according to the investigators.

Wolves are bought to be cross-bred with dogs for the puppies to be sold as guard dogs, commonly used in the mountains against wolves. But other animals are killed, stuffed and put on display.

Animals’ mouths are often taped to prevent them biting and their feet chained to stop them running away.

A restaurant in the town of Drilon has also been found advertising bear meat on its menu on Facebook. The listing, for “mish ariu” – Albanian for bear meat – added “ne sezone”, meaning “according to season”.

A live fox with its mouth taped up advertised for sale (Four Paws)

An online restaurant portal, updated earlier this month, confirms the restaurant offering.

A spokesperson for Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) said: “What is especially alarming about this is not only the fact that bear meat is being sold, it is also the addition in brackets of “ne sezone”, which gives the impression that there’s a hunting season for bears.

“In fact there’s no hunting season for any wild animals in Albania, there’s a hunting moratorium and hunting ban for years throughout the whole country – passed in 2014 and extended in 2016 until March 2021.

“The massive decline of wildlife in Albania triggered this.”

Bear meat dishes have previously been seen in Asian countries. The meat can trigger disease caused by parasites, with symptoms including diarrhoea, cramps, fever and hallucinations.

Prof James Wood, head of department of veterinary medicine and an infection expert at the University of Cambridge, said Covid-19 and other zoonotic viruses can be carried by contaminated meat from any species.

“However, the risks are far greater from butchering and hunting than they are from simple consumption,” he said.

“Bears are no more likely to act as a source of a zoonotic virus than any other species group.” He added that cooking was a highly effective means of destroying the Covid-19 virus and other infections, but that “eating bears is, of course, highly undesirable for many reasons, including conservation and animal welfare, if they have been kept in captivity before being killed”.

A bear kept in a cage at a restaurant (Four Paws)

Ms van Genne said: “Four Paws has been active in Albania since 2015 but we have never seen such atrocities before. Until now we have mainly focused on restaurants that keep bears in small cages for entertainment of guests.

“This bizarre new discovery is a further indication that the commercial wildlife trade in Albania is out of control.”

She warned that if the government did not intervene soon, “the few native wild animals left will be history”.

“The platforms need to introduce preventive measures such as seller identification to stop these ads. However, the main problem for the illegal trade remains – the lack of control and enforcement by the authorities,” she claimed.

In the 1990s, there were still about 200 pairs of eagles in Albania, but today the number has halved.

A wildlife sanctuary that can carry out criminal prosecutions, take in rescues and educate people in species protection was urgently needed in Albania, Ms van Genne said.

Bear spotted running across all lanes of I-5 in Pierce County

The bear was spotted along I-5 between Dupont and Lakewood. (Photo: Wash. State Patrol)

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Question: Why did the bear cross Interstate 5?

That’s what state troopers are asking after they spotted a black bear run across all lanes of I-5 at around 8 a.m. Sunday.

The bear was last seen west of I-5, about halfway between Lakewood and Dupont, and now troopers are asking motorists in that area to be on the lookout for the furry critter.

Trooper Ryan Burke


Be careful if you’re north I-5 near milepost 122! The bears are out today! Troopers on scene now attempting to avoid close contact.

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Agents with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife also have arrived on scene and are attempting to locate the bear.

Trooper Ryan Burke sent out a tweet asking drivers in that area to be careful because “the bears are out today!”

To which one commenter replied, “He’s looking for an Arby’s,” and another opined, “Be careful, it’s not wearing a mask!”