Tibetan bear on the loose in south of France

A Tibetan brown bear remained at large in the Aude region of the south of France on Monday despite a huge search effort to track down the animal, which escaped from a nearby zoo. Residents have been told not to approach the bear.

Tibetan bear on the loose in south of France
File photo of a brown bear. Photo: FLickr/Timbako the jaguar
  • Update: 11 am, French time. The bear was spotted, but not yet captured, on Monday night on the D3 motorway between Portel-des-Corbières and Sigean, according to police in the department of Aude.

French police, fire fighters and vets armed with tranquilizers were all on the hunt for Tibetan brown bear on Monday after it escaped from the Sigean African Reserve the previous day.

Residents in the area were warned not to approach the 130-kilo bear, named Viviane.

After Sunday’s search failed to locate the bear reinforcements were brought in on Monday with around 40 officers from the gendarmerie along with specialist sniffer dogs, two helicopters, two vets and around a dozen fire fighters all on the trail of the runaway bear.

The last time Viviane was spotted was near the pond at Bages, not far from the reserve.

Initial reports in the local media suggested that two bears had escaped from the reserve and that they had left a trail of bloodshed behind them as they attacked sheep in farms across the region.

However after further investigation police determined that only one bear, a 32-year-old female, had managed to break out and that no dead animals had been found in the area where she is believed to be.

Police and staff at the reserve have still not determined how the animal managed to escape.

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Bear hunt launched in France after rescue cub escapes from village

A malnourished bear cub found wandering alone through a French village last week has escaped from the home of its appointed carer, triggering a major search, local authorities said Monday.

Bear hunt launched in France after rescue cub escapes from village
Bears are sometimes spotted living wild in the French mountains. Photo: AFP

The cub, believed to be about five months old, has very little chance of survival unless found in the coming hours, according to authorities in Tarn, a southwestern region in the French Pyrenees.

Weighing a mere 8kg, it presents “no danger to humans,” officials said in a statement.

SEE ALSO VIDEO: French farmers v wolves and bears in a battle for livelihood

The bear was found in south west France. Photo: Préfecture of Ariège

The little bear, which was separated from its mother before being weaned, was very weak when found in Couflens, a village on the French-Spanish border. 

After being caught by agents from France's national hunting and wildlife agency ONCFS, it was taken in by a person licensed to keep wild animals.

Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy, about 100 km east of Toulouse.

No details about how the cub escaped were immediately available.

A team of 12, including three ONCFS wildlife experts, were searching for the animal on Monday.

The authorities appealed for information on any sightings. 

About 50 brown bears live on the French side of the Pyrenees mountains that straddle the border with Spain. 

France began reintroducing bears from Slovenia about 20 years ago, despite opposition from local farmers, after the native population was hunted to near extinction.