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Third bear killed in the Pyrenees in 2020, angering activists

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By Euronews with AFP
A European bear pictured at Les Angles animal park in the south of France.
A European bear pictured at Les Angles animal park in the south of France.   -   Copyright  GEORGES GOBET/AFP
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Spanish authorities have confirmed that a wild bear has been killed in the Pyrenees mountains, the third animal to die in 2020.

"Sarousse the bear died as a result of a gunshot" in the Bardaji valley, the regional government of Aragon tweeted on Sunday evening.

The hunter who shot the animal has claimed he was acting in self-defence, the authorities stated, adding that an autopsy would be carried out on Monday.

An investigation has been launched by the Service for the Protection of Nature (Seprona).

The incident comes just days after a suspect was arrested in connection with the investigation into the death of another bear, Cachou.

The six-year-old male bear's body was found dead in early April in the Aran Valley in Spain, near the border with France.

In June, another bear was shot and killed near the French ski resort of Guzet, in Ariège, but the investigation is at a standstill.

French associations are once again demanding that new animals be released in the region to replace the individuals killed, and say Sarousse died "during a wild boar hunt".

"These three bears killed by man must be replaced according to the commitments of the 2018-2028 bear plan," the Ferus and Pays de l'Ours-Adet associations stated in a joint press release.

"2020 is a black year for the bear in the Pyrenees, [with] more than 5% of the bear population is killed by man and a deafening silence from representatives of the French State up to the highest level."

Pays de l'Ours-Adet says that both Sarousse, who was released in 2006 and had been living in the Turbon massif in Spain, and Cachou had been valuable for the species due to their genetic history.

"Ferus and Pays de l'Ours-Adet request that light is shed on the death of Sarousse and also on that of the bear killed in Ariège last June."

"Ferus and Pays de l'Ours-Adet will act as much as necessary to replace these three bears."

But on both sides of the border, the presence of the bear has generated anger among farmers, who claim the animals have killed hundreds of their sheep.

In August 2019, authorities in Val d'Aran had requested the "immediate withdrawal" of the bear, which they say prompted a response from French President Emmanuel Macron last January.