A brown bear. Drawing. - Whitewolf - Sipa

  • The 5-year-old Cachou bear was found dead Thursday on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.
  • An autopsy of his remains must be performed in Barcelona. It must shed light on the causes of death of this male who no longer had the vulnerability of a cub.
  • When a hunter does not interfere, Pyrenean bears whose bodies are found are the most frequently victims of accidents.

He is not emaciated, he even seems rather plump at the end of hibernation, with a beautiful coat. And a priori there is no visible injury. The photo of the remains of the Cachou bear released on Thursday by the authorities of the autonomous community of Val d'Aran, continues to be "zoomed", scrutinized, in particular by the defenders of the plantigrades who wait firmly, without any know the date, the results of the autopsy which must take place in a laboratory of the Autonomous University of Catalonia.

Has the body been turned over? Or moved? "A first examination could be, it seems to me, quick, pending further analysis," advises Alain Reynes, the director of the Pays de l'Ours-Adet association. It is normal for bears to be born, live and die in the Pyrenees as elsewhere, but what will be needed above all is to learn from them ”.

Agents of Miei Ambient deth Conselh trapen mòrt ar os Cachou en municipi de Les, dempús de comprovar que er animau portaue dies immobil. Peth moment, se desconeish era causa dera mòrt: https://t.co/gbzZqyUcV5 pic.twitter.com/wqI4gWO6xs

- Conselh Generau Aran (@conselharan) April 9, 2020

Pending the results, which the containment of teams on both sides of the Pyrenees will not accelerate, specialists are reduced to hypotheses.

For Melba in 1997, he was a hunter

So what do bears in the Pyrenees usually die of? For the death of Melba, the first traumatic episode of the series in 1997, there is no mystery: a hunter shot her in the head. He was sentenced for his actions. However, Cachou, a great predator of sheep and equines in Spanish lands, had managed to attract a certain animosity in the pastoral environment.

He was also very closely watched by the authorities who had equipped him with a GPS collar to prevent his attacks. It is also thanks to this abnormally motionless device that the body was found. But, “personally, I dismiss this hypothesis, explains Sabine Matraire, vice-president of the Ferus association. A bullet, it shows, they would not have taken the risk of not saying it right away ». "It seems unlikely indeed," said Alain Reynes.

The accidental death hypothesis

Then, when the Ursine population of the Pyrenees is in mourning, accidents are more frequent. Even if we suspect Pyros, the Casanova of the massif, of having died of old age at the venerable age of 29 years. Balou, Cachou's own father, had a huge fall in 2014, probably following a lightning strike on a stormy day. As for the Slovenian bear Franska, it was struck by a vehicle in August 2007 on a road in the Hautes-Pyrénées.

The photo of Cachou, who shows him, it seems, lying on his back in a steep place, does not seem to indicate that he suffered the same fate. But we can not exclude that he was first injured and then died there. "He may have had a wound that became infected," suggests Sabine Matraire.

A fight between males?

He may also have been injured in a fight with another bear. Cachou, with no known descendants, was "the average age at which bears begin to breed," says Alain Reynes. However, at the end of hibernation, the period of rut begins for the plantigrades, with its demonstrations of force and its rivalries.

If Cachou's death was not violent, only in-depth analyzes will be able to say if he died from an illness. The associations Ferus and Pays de l'Ours-Adet admit to being “intrigued” by an article published just Thursday by the Spanish daily La Vanguardia. It reads that in September 2019, the Val d'Aran authorities used a fungicide, which causes vomiting, to make the predator Cachou regurgitate the carrion of a mare he had killed.

This "aversive" treatment is already used on captive bears in Aran Park. Apparently, the operation was to be renewed this spring but has not yet been. "We only find what we are looking for and I hope that we will be given answers on the use of this fungicide," warns Alain Reynes.


Pyrenees: Cachou bear found dead of unknown cause on the Spanish side


Pyrenees: A bear immortalized on a ridge at 2,800 meters above sea level

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