Update 27/10/2008. It is clear that this story has been blown out of all proportion to the facts and the risks involved. A man received slight injuries to his foot, and the result is the call for the removal of all bears from the Pyrenees. How many slight injuries to feet are sustained every day in the Pyrenees due to a whole host of reasons? Skiing accident. Let’s ban skiing. Iron falling on your foot. Let’s ban ironing. Children playing in the park. Let’s ban playing.
Thankfully the Catalan authorities are seeing sense in this matter and are refusing to listen to the yuppie owners of Vall d’Aran. As Simon on the forum points out the Catalan Minsitry of the Environment should no more take into account the opinions of hotel owners than these should listen to the former’s advice on how to make beds. For me, the underlying problem is the ridiculous amount of local automony and respect afforded to a small area, just because they happen to speak a different language. The Aranese have powers in the environment, while the next valley along which doesn’t happen to speak a different language, doesn’t. This means that they can I think, in effect, legally remove the bear in question. These small number of persons, in many cases greedily linked to the skiing and hotel industry, are going against what by all accounts are the wishes of the majority of people in Catalonia who want to maintain the bear reintroduction programme. It’s a mockery of democracy.
Update 26/10/2008. The Aranese authorities are now searching for the bear Hvala with the objective of shooting it with tranquillising darts and removing it from the wild. They claim this is to avoid a “generalised vendetta” against all bears in the area (El Periodico) Meanwhile, the ecological organisation Depana while lamenting the injuries to the man, lay the blame at poorly organised boar hunts, and note that bears and boar hunting are perfectly compatible when managed properly, citing the example of the Cordillera Cantábrica.
Original story. Bad news for bears in the Pyrenees. A boar hunter in the Vall d’Aran was bitten today by a bear and has suffered minor injuries to his foot and hand. Although this is the first time a human has been attacked by a bear in the Pyrenees since the reintroduction programme began in 1996, it has led to calls from the Aranese government for the removal of all bears from the range, claiming that the “bear reintroduction experiment has failed”. One suspects that the Aranese authorities have been looking any excuse to stop the programme. So far the Catalan government has called for calm. The bear in question is “called” Hvala, the same bear which was filmed last month. New Vote No to reconsidering the reintroduction programme at La Vanguardia below.