On November 1st 2004, the last female brown bear in
the Pyrenees of Pyrenean stock (as apposed to the female brown bears
introduced from Slovenia), died. Canelle was shot and killed by one of a group of hunters hunting for wild boar. The group of hunters and their dogs were from Urdos and hunting in the Aspe valley in an area where they had been warned the bear was present.
René Marquèze said he acted in self defence after the bear made charges at one of the dogs, another of the hunters and himself. He said he feared for his life, and that he acted in self defence shooting at the bear twice. Brown bears are normally afraid of humans but can become aggressive if they are cornered, surprised, with young or feel threatened.
René Marquèze went to court for destruction of a protected species where the initial case was dismissed on 19th January 2007. There was an appeal against this decision and after a lengthy battle in the courts he was ordered to pay 10 000 euros in damages to several
environmental organistions on 11th September 2009.
The Lifeless Body Transported Away
Cannelle (Cinnamon in English) was with her male cub at the time of her death which was not physically hurt and escaped. The loss of the last female of Pyrenean stock is a huge blow to the survical of the species in the Pyrenees. In 2007 there were only about 15 brown bears present in the whole chain. In France, they are only present in the Pyrenees.
Bear Sculpture, Axat
Since Cannelle's death there have been efforts to support the brown bear population by further introduction of bears from Slovenia. In 2007 5 bears from Slovenia were introduced to the Pyrenees (4 females and 1 male) which followed the 3 released between May 1996 and May 1997.