More than 1,200 shepherds, farmers and elected officials from all sides, marched on Monday in Pau to oppose the reintroduction of bears in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
More than 1200 protesters, shepherds, farmers and elected officials of all stripes , marched Monday in Pau to the sound of sheep bells to oppose the reintroduction of bears in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques desired by the government.
The Minister of Ecological Transition, Nicolas Hulot , announced at the end of March that he wanted to reintroduce two female bears this fall in the department to ensure the sustainability of the species.
But opponents believe that the presence of bears and human activities, including pastoral, are not compatible.
“You will not have the skin of shepherds”
“Stop Bears”, “Hulot, the ecology that travels by helicopter”, could we read on the banners stretched on the tractors of the demonstrators, some from Ariège or from the neighboring Spanish province of Aragon , while some shepherds had hung teddy bears at the end of their sticks.
“No, Mr. Hulot, you will not have the skin of the shepherds! “, Launched on an improvised platform facing the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Olivier Maurin , president of the Pyrenean Association for the Sustainable Development of the Pyrenees Identity (ADDIP) .
For Claude Soulas , director of the departmental center for sheep farming, “protective measures, barriers, dogs, etc. advocated by the government are totally ineffective. ” He cites the case of the department of Ariège where, according to him, “the attacks have multiplied”, with “more than 600 animals killed in 2017 by bears, for the majority of sheep”.
Parliamentarians, Socialist Senator Frédérique Espagnac, Senator Les Républicains Max Brisson and Jean Lassalle (non-registered), himself a former shepherd, joined the event but were not part of a delegation received. by the prefect.
“I have come to denounce the state lie of Nicolas Hulot which consists in saying that the bears and the sheep are compatible. I denounce this imposture, “said Jean Lassalle.
“The consultation for us is niet, the decision of the government was taken. The prefect did not understand that we will go into force. Today it’s nice, but the movement can be hardened, “reacted Olivier Maurin, after the interview with the prefect, Gilbert Payet.
“The position of the representative delegation of the world of agricultural organizations is not to participate in the consultation,” lamented the latter, recalling that his goal was to “meet the breeders, elected officials, etc.. until June, when the consultation must be completed.
Manure and straw inflamed
The demonstration ended at 14h at the prefecture before which the farmers had deposited manure, slurry and straw that they ignited.
At the end of March, Nicolas Hulot had announced that he wanted to “initiate the reintroduction of two female bears in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the fall,” because there are only two males in this department, including the son of Cannelle, the last representative of the native stock of the Pyrenees, killed by a hunter in 2004.
After a reintroduction in 1996-97 of three Slovenian bears not far from the Spanish border and five others in 2006 (one of which died), the number of bears in the Pyrenees is estimated at 39, mainly in the center of the massif.