French experts will carry out an autopsy Wednesday on a young brown bear who discovered dead in the Pyrenees mountains this week with gunshot wounds. Authorities hope the autopsy will lead to the killer.
The bear was a male about four or five years old and weighed around 150-200 kilograms (330-440 pounds). This was the second brown bear found dead this year in the Pyrenees, where the animal is a protected species.
“Everything possible is being done to identify the perpetrators,” Laurent Dumaine, the prosecutor of the commune of Foix, told journalists, adding an autopsy would be performed at the veterinary school in Toulouse, the nearest big city.
An investigation has been opened for “unauthorized destruction of a protected species,” said Dumaine. The crime is punishable by three years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros ($170,000).
The bear has not been identified as it was not wearing a tracking collar. His body was discovered Tuesday near a ski station close to the Spanish border by biodiversity officials investigating complaints from local farmers about sheep killings. The bear’s carcass was evacuated by helicopter.
The state and animal activists have filed criminal charges. “A bear was discovered shot dead,” Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne wrote on Twitter, along with harrowing pictures of the dead animal. “Bears are a protected species, this act is illegal and strongly condemned. The state will file a complaint,” she said.
Close to extinction in the early 1990s, the brown bear was reintroduced to the Pyrenees with animals brought in from Slovenia. There are about 50 of them today. But the animals’ presence has caused tension with farmers, whose animals risk becoming bear food.
Un ours a été découvert aujourd’hui en Ariège, abattu par balles. L’ours est une espèce protégée, cet acte est illégal et profondément condamnable. La préfète s’est rendue sur place. L’Etat va porter plainte. pic.twitter.com/tlMPzmsvyf— Elisabeth BORNE (@Elisabeth_Borne) June 9, 2020