Bear Panics 200 Sheep, and They Jump to Their Deaths
Bodies have been found along France/Spain border
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2017 4:04 AM CDT
Sheep are seen during a protest in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2014. Shepherds from France demonstrated against a French policy that protects wolves.   (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

(Newser) – Hundreds of sheep in a herd belonging to a farmer in Couflens in the southwest of France have plunged to their deaths in what appears to be a bear attack on one of the sheep. As the Guardian reports, the attack on one is believed to have frightened the 209 others, who sailed over a 650-foot cliff in an apparent bid to flee. That cliff sits on the border with Spain, and most of the recovered bodies—169—were found in the Spanish village Lladorre; the rest ended up on the French side of the border. Bear fur was found on one of the bodies, and the Local reports that an analysis of it does point to a bear prompting the scare, which came almost exactly a year after more than 130 sheep died similarly.

The French government, which has been reintroducing brown bears to the Pyrenees for the last 20 years or so after hunters completely depleted the native population, will compensate the farmer. A local branch of the French farmers' federation is furious nonetheless. Sheep breeders have previously protested the presence of bears and wolves, which they say threaten their flocks and livelihood. The current estimate suggests there are 35 brown bears inhabiting the Pyrenees. Last year, one was found with a gunshot wound to the chest in northern Spain, though it enjoys protected status there. (Protesters slaughtered a sheep at Auschwitz in March.)

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