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Pyros, the ursine romeo of the Pyrenees

By JW Dowey - 12 May 2013 18:21:54 GMT
Pyros, the ursine romeo of the Pyrenees

This Pyrenean brown bear is one of the few, possibly only 22, who live and love in the mountainous forests; Ursus image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The Eurasian version of the brown bear has little to fear you would think. Unlike North America, where there are wide open spaces, or Eastern Europe and Asia where the same applies, western Europe has killed off its bears completely since the 11th>/sup century!

The mountains of the Pyrenees would be thought wild enough to support a few bears, and unfortunately that's all we have left. Thanks to one gallant male, we now have 22 individuals from his contributions alone.

The 1998 season saw a handsome hunk emerge into the woods to try his luck. Since then he has fathered 18 cubs with several paramours, adding another 3 just last season, from 2 lucky mothers. His name is Pyros, while other bears to the west of the Pyrenees such as Balou seem to be failing in the reproduction department. His possible "wives" this year number 6 lovely females! Living for 24 years has been quite an achievement for him, as this is the average life for most bears. His greatest moments though, like many of us, have been his offspring. Two of his sons should take over his mantle this year, but don't place your faith in that change happening too quickly.

Ursos arctos is still successful in many of the areas it inhabits, but in France and Spain, it looks as though Pyros will be causing his own genetic bottleneck. Without him, there would be no future for bears in the high Pyrenees. Now we could see some zoo-like breeding programme to try and ensure that he doesn't pass on too many recessive genes to his descendants.

And the nationality of this Lothario/Romeo/Casanova? Well it's the French who look after him, so the Spanish side of the Pyrenees may not claim this great lover. Hopefully, farmers and hunters don't get their claws into him either. The ONCFS is L'Organisation Nationale de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage.

They sagely report that bears had been responsible for 135 attacks on livestock in 2012, injuring or killing 272 animals. Cause for thought by local farmers! Honey raids on beehives, however, have however become rare with only four cases recorded last year. Maybe less sugar in the diet makes the virility of Pyros increase?

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Topics: Bears