Imported brown bear released in Pyrenees as farmers protest

PARIS (AP) — French authorities have released a female bear from Slovenia in the Pyrenees in an effort to preserve the population of brown bears, despite protests from farmers worried about their sheep.

The Environment Ministry says the bear was set free to roam in the mountain range on Thursday. Brown bears were thought to be at risk of disappearing from the area during the 1980s, but their numbers rose to 43 last year.

The Slovenian bear put in the Bearn region is the first bear to be released into the wild in France since 2006. The ministry said she will be joined by a second female, also from Slovenia, in the coming days.

Local farmers organized road blockades Wednesday night to stop her arrival and checked vehicles likely to carry the bear. It’s unclear how the bear made it to her destination; French media said she was delivered with a helicopter.

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